In My Double Life 1 Nicholas Hagger told of his four years’ service and double life as an undercover British intelligence agent during the Cold War (there revealed for the first time). Lost in a dark wood like Dante following his encounters with Gaddafi’s Libya and the African liberation movements, he found Reality on a ‘Mystic Way’ of loss, purgation and illumination, perceived the universe as a unity and had 16 experiences of the metaphysical Light. In My Double Life 2 he continues the story. He received new powers, coped with fresh ordeals, acquired three schools, renovated a historic house, and had 76 further experiences of the metaphysical Light. He founded a new philosophy of Universalism and new approaches to contemporary history, international statecraft and world literature. He produced nearly 1,500 poems, over 300 classical odes, five verse plays, two poetic epics, over a thousand short stories – and 40 books that include innovative literary, historical and philosophical works. His vision of Universalism in seven disciplines is like a rainbow with seven bands overarching seven hills. He produced nearly 1,500 poems, over 300 classical odes, five verse plays, two poetic epics, over a thousand short stories – and 40 books that include innovative literary, historical and philosophical works. His vision of Universalism in seven disciplines is like a rainbow with seven bands overarching seven hills.
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About the Author
Nicholas Hagger is a poet, man of letters, cultural historian and philosopher. He has lectured in English Literature at universities in Baghdad, Tripoli (Libya) and Japan (where he was a Professor), and is the author of more than 35 books. These include a substantial literary output of nearly 1,500 poems, over 300 classical odes, two poetic epics, five verse plays and a thousand stories, travelogues and innovatory works in literature, history and philosophy.
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My Double Life 2 A Rainbow Over the Hills
The Vision of Unity
By Nicholas Hagger
John Hunt Publishing Ltd.Copyright © 2015 Nicholas Hagger
All rights reserved.
Through a Mist of Unknowing: Dark Night of the Spirit and Infused Powers
"It is characteristic of the journey along the Mystic Way that those lost in its 'Dark Wood' and experiencing its Dark Night are unaware of the explanation for what is happening to them and what lies ahead; this is only grasped later when, from the serene calm of unitary consciousness, the self can look back and understand the detaching that suffering brought as a gift."
Nicholas Hagger, Preface to Collected Poems
From this sloping hill I look down on the dark wood spread out beneath and recall my journey to Kaseem's Iraq and to Japan, where I was a Professor, taught the Emperor Hirohito's second son, wrote my early poems, encountered Zen and was told the wisdom of the East by the poet Nishiwaki: +A + –A = 0; and experienced a First Mystic Life and contact with my imagination and my Muse. My journey took me to China, where I was the first to discover the Cultural Revolution, and to Libya, where I was an eyewitness of Gaddafi's revolution, became a secret agent and lost my marriage. I was now in a Dark Night of the Soul (or more strictly, a Dark Night of the Senses), and I began to undergo an inner transformation and purgation: a centre-shift. I returned to London, became Heath's 'unofficial Ambassador' to the African liberation movements and wrote for The Times. I recall how I was routinely followed by surveillance squads. Living in a boarding-house in London and helped by an Austrian artist, I experienced illumination and further purgation in a Second Mystic Life and renewed contact with my imagination and Muse. I had visions of the One, the Light, and instinctively came to see the universe as a unity. At the same time I monitored Soviet and Chinese activity in Africa, visited Tanzania and managed to get into a restricted section of the Chinese Tanzam railway. I recall how I severed connections with the SIS in 1973.
All this I narrated in My Double Life 1: This Dark Wood. I told my story in 15 episodes (or sequences of events), in each of which there was a pair of opposites. I ended that account with me still in my cover job at a school for educationally subnormal boys but having secured a new job in a new school. I had started a new relationship with Ann, a primary school teacher I had met in Greenwich, and I had just moved into a flat I had bought in Stanhope Gardens, near South Kensington station. I left my story with me clear of the dark wood, my finding complete, and sensing that I would complete innovatory works and projects of founding that would reflect my new sense of purpose. I sensed that in the next 15 episodes I would express the One in my works and convey a new sense of meaning.
But I did not know that before that could happen I had to undergo a Dark Night of the Spirit in which new infused powers would pour into my self and I would experience a Third Mystic Life lasting a couple of years. In the creative Night of Unknowing between illumination and the unitive life the spirit is covered as in a mist and is fed new energy, knowledge and powers by the enfolding darkness which acts as a Muse and often pours in inspiration during sleep. On the universal Mystic Way the Night of Unknowing is a final purification and infusing of knowledge in preparation for the unitive life along the Unitive Way. In this Night a 'Cloud of Unknowing' descends on the spirit and the Light is only experienced from time to time. I did not know that, while veiled by Unknowing and nourished with new powers and a Third Mystic Life, I would undergo further purgation and trials, ordeals in which I would find myself fighting Communism. I did not know that only after these ordeals of combat would I be able to emerge from my Dark Night of the Spirit, reach the beginning of the Unitive Way and create my works.
I stand just below the rim on the outer side of the crater that halfsurrounds Loughton. On the inside of the crater seven roads wind up seven separate hills. On the outside each hill is interconnected by the crater's wall. As I look, between sunshine and cloud a rainbow gathers over the hills. It forms slowly out of nothing like the Light, at first a shimmering haze. An arch of seven symmetrical bands of different colours manifests into form from the cloudy sunshine. Slowly I identify the colours in the bands: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. The rainbow straddles the crater that contains the seven hills of Loughton,1 uniting them under the span of its arch.
The curved bands reflect the seven curved hills within the crater below its span. I now see each band as a discipline and genre in which I have worked. But then, emerging from the dark wood in mist and looking up at the hills and the side of the crater to be ascended, I had only a hazy idea of the disciplines and genres in which I would work. I just knew my illumination had marked me out to complete a number of works and projects.
Now I look down on the young man who emerged from the dark wood with a vision of the unity of the universe and a determination to make use of the knowledge he had found. He was constricted by having to earn a living, and had little time to produce works that would convey his vision. He was hoping the way would open. I find him near the beginning of a new episode. His mystical Light is behind him, and a fog has enfolded his soul, like a mist that rises from Connaught Water and enfolds the Ching valley, a mist of Unknowing that pours in infused knowledge and gives the spirit new powers which pass into works.
Now my theme ceases to be one of finding and becomes one of founding: the process of implementing what I found in the course of my journey in a succession of works. I continue the story that began in My Double Life 1: This Dark Wood and present a new series of 15 episodes. I will then lay out the pattern of my life, an approach that can be applied to all lives.
Remarriage and Comprehensive Education
Locations: London; Hastings
Works: The Gates of Hell; Elegies: A Bulb in Winter; The Pilgrim in the Garden, nos. 1–10; The Night-Sea Crossing; The Fountain. Initiatives: Metaphysical poetry; neo-Baroque poetry
"We begin to live when we have conceived life as tragedy."
W.B. Yeats, Autobiography, 'Four Years', 1887–1891, chapter 21, 1922
When the moon's upset, he doesn't fret
He doesn't sit around and cry
He gets all dolled up in a sky-blue shirt
And a rainbow tie
Jack Berch/John Redmond,
'A Sky-Blue Shirt and a Rainbow Tie', 1954
In my new episode my busy life as an educator at a comprehensive school, whose daily obfuscation of work covered my soul like mist, was in conflict with my increasingly settled domestic life in whose peaceful atmosphere, in an unprecedented burst of creativity, I wrote hundreds of inspired lyric poems and stories.
I start as Second-in-command in English Department at Henry Thornton School In My Double Life 1: This Dark Wood I described how I had to find a new job for September 1973 so I could leave my secret work as a British intelligence agent, and how I was appointed Second-in-command of the English Department at Henry Thornton School.
Henry Thornton School faces Clapham Common. Founded in 1894 and located on its present site as a grammar school from 1929, it was now a comprehensive that combined grammar and secondary-modern intakes. Local boys of all abilities mixed freely in accordance with the comprehensive ideal. Every morning I drove from our flat in Stanhope Gardens, leaving Ann to go to work at St James Norlands, Holland Park, and returned each evening with piles of books to mark while Ann (who had less marking, teaching ten-year-olds) watched television, sometimes curled up in a chair beside a bowl of cherries.
Henry Thornton was ten times larger than Riverway, the ESN school in Greenwich I had left behind. I found it glassy, hectic and crowded. The playground was always filled with shrieking teenage boys playing manic games of football, and walking from the staff room to the English block involved running a gauntlet of flying footballs. The first few days I was rushed off my feet. The English Department had no syllabus. The elderly Head of Department, white-haired Jim Doolan, who wore a bow-tie and whose great joy was reading Chaucer in the original, did not believe in syllabuses. The Head of the school asked me to write one. I had to sort through the stockroom, which did not seem to have been touched since Henry Thornton ceased to be a grammar school – the old Honours boards from that time were stored up one end – and I had to hold meetings with the ten young teachers to co-ordinate what they were doing into a progression. They told me the only guidance Doolan had given them was: "You're an English teacher, teach." I soon discovered I was running the Department. From the outset I was courted as if I were Head of Department by both the English staff and the Head of the school.
The staff were very well-mannered, pleasant, urbane and well-spoken, and there was a great contrast between the civilised atmosphere in the huge staff room, where over 100 sat in comfortable chairs reading newspapers, and the confused and noisy congestion in the corridors. The Head of the school sat in his study all day, coping with paperwork, and discipline was left to his two deputies.
Soon after I arrived I encountered one of them, an ex-RSM (Regimental Sergeant-Major), Mr Nicholls, in the playground in a quieter moment. (He had brought the quiet with him.) He asked how I was getting on. I said, "Fine. How do you keep order in this place?"
"I'll show you," he said, and he bellowed: "Boy." About 200 yards away a West-Indian boy of about 11 cringed, turned and scampered up to us. "You keep a cane up your sleeve," Nicholls told me. He shook down from the right-hand sleeve of his threadbare suit a small cane. "Boy," he commanded, "put your hand out." Cowering and with his bottom lip out and quivering, the boy sulkily extended his right hand. Swish. The boy ran off, flicking his fingers. No one else was around.
"What was that for?" I asked, scarcely believing what I had seen.
"Oh, that wasn't for anything," Nicholls said. "That's how I keep order in this place."
While the senior staff, like the Head of the school and Jim Doolan, went gravely to and fro, carrying with them an oasis of untroubled calm amid the general chaos, one of the Heads of House, a small balding Welshman, Mr Daniels, patrolled my corridor waving a large cane to persuade the tearaways to line up. "You need a stick, Mr Hagger," Mr Daniels said with mock-seriousness at the beginning of one of my classes, and he presented me with a cane, which I theatrically locked away in my cupboard. I never used it, but when the high tide of turmoil outside my classroom rose to threatening proportions I appeared and brandished it, and the general rushing-about suddenly stopped.
I do not know how we got some of the boys to stay in their desks all lesson, let alone do the work we set. I took 1st and 2nd years, 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th years. There was an enormous range of ability, and some 15-year-olds could hardly write their name. I struggled on with Macbeth and Brighton Rock, and the dunces would say, "Oh sir, can't we play cards today?" Some of them handed in wretched work with a pleading "Sir, do you think you could give me an A?" Some just pushed their papers on the floor and stared out of the window. When they did this in other classes, the boys were sent to me and I had them sitting near the front as a punishment. "Sir, what's the use of teaching us?" one of the miscreants asked me. "We're not going to do anything that needs what we learn at this dump of a school." He had a point. I fairly soon realised that such pupils had been failed by their primary schools, that their English in our school was crippled by what they had failed to learn when younger.
I enjoyed the 6th- and 7th-year lessons most, the 'A'-level classes. A dozen intelligent boys sat down both sides of a long table in the calm of the long shelf-lined 'A'-level room, which had been an extensive 'A'-level library in the grammar-school days. Somehow these boys had survived the frenetic rushing-about and had come through with some semblance of literary criticism, although in their essays they needed to "tighten up", as Jim Doolan put it. They appeared generally interested in the Metaphysical poets which I had to read with them. I had first found out about the Light from the 17th-century Metaphysical poets I had read in Spain, and I greatly enjoyed combing their poems for references to it.
Jim Doolan, Head of English
In the calm atmosphere of this long room we had our Departmental meetings. As there was no pre-existing structure whatsoever, except for lists of class names, the classes teachers were taking and the exam set books, I had to start from scratch. Everything was new, and Jim Doolan presided over our deliberations at the end of the table, white-haired and hornrimmed, with a disdainful, detached, sometimes scathing expression on his face.
As the term progressed and he and I talked more and more, he made no attempt to disguise his criticisms of the comprehensive system and of its uncaring attitude in lumping together the more able and the less able on one site. "The more able suffer because of the hooligans," he used to say to me, "and the less able feel inferior because of the more able. It doesn't work. And the meetings are all a waste of time. Yesterday they spent an hour discussing a one-way system to get the children to proceed in an orderly fashion in the corridors without mentioning once that they rush about as if they're on a football pitch." He aired his criticisms in the staff room, and they had not gone down well at the top. When there was a vacancy for Senior Teacher the previous term (a post rightfully Jim's by seniority) the post had been given to a young Head of Science who had been a pupil at the school under Jim. Jim had been bitterly hurt at the snub. Hence he had withdrawn from his role and had told me to run the Department as best as I could.
There was much talk of the Head not doing enough about discipline. One of the staff, an ex-commando who had lost fingers at Arromanches, 'Tug' Wilson, took a party of 5th-years to a matinée at the Royal Court in Sloane Square. A tall West-Indian with a boxer's physique was difficult outside the theatre and 'Tug' sent him home. The boy knocked him out with a right hook. The ex-war hero lay unconscious in the gutter and was taken to hospital by ambulance. The boy was suspended for a couple of days and then allowed back into school, where he boasted that any other master who crossed him would receive the same treatment. Appalled, the staff held a meeting and threatened to strike unless the boy was expelled. The boy remained in school but was not taught. Everyone said that the Head was too soft and ought to leave his room and tour the school.
Lyric poems: influence of Roman poetry
Teaching Marvell's 'The Definition of Love' and 'Dialogue of Soul and Body' in the long room took me back into my own poetry. In early October Margaret Riley, the artist at 13 Egerton Gardens who had induced my illumination (see My Double Life 1: This Dark Wood), arrived uninvited and stayed a night. I showed her Marvell's 'The Garden', which I was also teaching (and had read with Christopher Ricks). She said, "If you met Marvell you would talk for a long time, you are on the same level." On 7 October I wrote in my Diaries: "Get back to poetry after 5 months." And on 11 October:
I am a poet. ... I write of the moment – in poems and short stories. ... My journalism took me off on a different route. ... I neglected my true way. I had it between 1965 and 1966. ... 1967: that is when I went wrong. ... I lost my way. And now I am finding it again. I must face up to the fact that I have had a false start. ... My major work – which I described to [Ezra] Pound – is ahead. Images. ... Jim on Eliot knowing his method is right because it was used [by] the Elizabethans, i.e. taking his strength from the past. ... A new onslaught into poetry. Something original each day. ... I must make poetry come across and give it a new philosophical dignity. The line: think. Old Norse. Vers libre.
Excerpted from My Double Life 2 A Rainbow Over the Hills by Nicholas Hagger. Copyright © 2015 Nicholas Hagger. Excerpted by permission of John Hunt Publishing Ltd..
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Table of Contents
ContentsTable of Contents,
PART ONE Towards the Shimmering Rainbow,
1. Through a Mist of Unknowing: Dark Night of the Spirit and Infused Powers,
2. Ordeals of Independence: Trials of the Dark Night, Battles against Communism,
PART TWO The Unitive Way: the Seven Hills of Achievement,
3. Arrival in the Hills: the Unitive Way,
4. Hard Slog: Contemplative Works,
5. Final Ascent: Unitive Vision,
Epilogue: Rainbow over Hills,
1. Light: 77 experiences of the metaphysical Light or Fire, Mystic Lives, a Dark Night, Unitive Life; and whole life extracts,
2. Collected Works,
4. Visits: visits by Nicholas Hagger to countries/places,
5. Europe: paper, The European Resurgence,
6. The New Baroque Vision,
7. FREE: paper on FREE (Freedom for the Republics of Eastern Europe,
8. Warning: Times leader based on Scargill the Stalinist?,
9. World Anti-Terror Summit,
10. International Politics: Nicholas Hagger's championing and initiatives,
Notes and References,