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O Master of the World

3rd October 2019

How Tracy's poem to Blofeld was adapted for the film

MI6 logo By MI6 Staff
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Today marks National Poetry day in the UK, and alongside M's recital of a passage of Tennyson’s Ulysses in 'Skyfall', the verse recited by Tracy to Blofeld in 'On Her Majesty's Secret Service' stands out in the series as one of the most intellectual pieces of dialog used in a Bond film.

Peter Hunt brought screenwriter Simon Raven on board the project in pre-production. "He did the scenes between Rigg and Savalas," the late director recalled in the documentary of the making of the film, "to make the dialogue better and a little sharper and more intellectual."

Tracy recites the following passage to Blofeld in the alpine room at sunrise whilst waiting for her rescue:

Thy dawn, O Master of the World, thy dawn;
For thee the sunlight creeps across the lawn,
For thee the ships are drawn down to the waves,
For thee the markets throng with myriad slaves,
For thee the hammer on the anvil rings,
For thee the poet of beguilement sings.

Raven, a controversial figure in literary circles, explained that he adapted a stanza from a play by James Elroy Flecker. The original passage from 'Hassan: The Story of Hassan of Baghdad and How he Came to Make the Golden Journey to Samarkand' is more romantic.  Raven was credited with 'additional dialogue' in the final film. The original stanza reads:

Thy dawn O Master of the world, thy dawn;
The hour the lilies open on the lawn,
The hour the grey wings pass beyond the mountains,
The hour of silence, when we hear the fountains,
The hour that dreams are brighter and winds colder,
The hour that young love wakes on a white shoulder,
O Master of the world, the Persian Dawn.

That hour, O Master, shall be bright for thee:
Thy merchants chase the morning down the sea,
The braves who fight thy war unsheathe the sabre,
The slaves who work thy mines are lashed to labour,
For thee the waggons of the world are drawn - 
The ebony of night, the red of dawn!

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