The Triumph of Light 1944-45
Published by O Books in October 2006
Price £29.99/$59.95 Paperback
This epic poem was published in four volumes by Element in 1995-7
Volume 1, Books 1-2
From D-Day to the bomb plot to kill Hitler and its aftermath.
Volume 2, Books 3-6
The last year of World War Two, featuring Falaise, the failure at Arnhem, the Holocaust and the Ardennes campaign (or Battle of the Bulge). More were killed in the final year of the War than in all the previous years.
Volume 3, Books 7-9
The Yalta conference, the crossing of the Rhine and the squabbling during Hitler’s defence of Berlin.
Volume 4, Books 10-12
The fall of Berlin and the death of Hitler, the Nazi surrender and the birth of the Atomic Age at Hiroshima.
The one volume edition presents the whole poem of 41,000 lines with an appendix entitled ‘The 25-Year Gestation and Birth of Overlord’.
At one level books 1-2 and 3-6 take the story of Eisenhower’s advance towards Hitler through D-Day, the plot against Hitler’s life, Falaise, Arnhem, the crossing of the Rhine and Hitler’s defence of Berlin. At another level Eisenhower visits Hell, and the forces of Heaven under the Cosmic Christ repulse an invasion by the forces of Hell led by the Cosmic Satan, and counter-invade. In both the lower and higher worlds, the forces of Light have begun to triumph over the forces of Darkness during the long battle of Armageddon. Books 7-9 deal with the Yalta conference, the crossing of the Rhine and Hitler’s defence of Berlin. Books 10-12 present the fall of Berlin (a contemporary Troy) and death of Hitler, the Nazi surrender and the birth of the atomic age at Hiroshima. At another level, Hell falls to Heaven’s invasion, and Satan, the power behind Hitler, now cut down to size, goes into exile and foments the Cold War with his new ally, Stalin. With the defeat of Hitler, the Antichrist, Armageddon is over, and the forces of Light foil Hell’s attempt to conquer Heaven, counter-invade Hell and neutralise the forces of Darkness and their leader, the Cosmic Satan. Eisenhower is permitted a vision of Paradise and of the coming millennium, the Cosmic Christ’s Thousand-Year Reign on earth and benevolent world government which triumphs over Satan’s plans for a new world order.
Nicholas Hagger’s Universalist epic reaches a triumphant conclusion with Eisenhower’s defeat of Hitler and the Cosmic Christ’s victory over the Cosmic Satan, and a vision of the divine order behind the universe reconciles the Tolstoyan conflict between war and peace and the Michelangelesque contrast between Hell and Heaven. In Hagger’s classical unitive vision harmony and balance are restored between the eternally conflicting forces of Light and Darkness, with Light just predominating. Combining imagination, spiritual vision, a penetrating understanding of history and a powerful metaphysical eye that draws on the new science and philosophy, Nicholas Hagger has created an impressive work that towers above the contemporary European literary scene like a mountain half-hidden in cloud over a flat landscape.
Conceived in 1969, and discussed with Ezra Pound in 1970, Overlord, the first major poetic epic in the English language since Milton’s Paradise Lost (1667) has had the same gestation period as Milton’s poem: some 25 years. It is in 12 books totalling 41,000 lines of blank verse. It is set in Europe in the last year of the Second World War. It narrates the conflict between Eisenhower and Hitler in terms that echo Homer’s Iliad, and the fall of Berlin is a latter-day fall of Troy. Just as the gods help the Greeks and the Trojans in the Iliad, Christ helps Eisenhower and Satan helps Hitler. The underlying struggle is between the forces of Good and the forces of Evil in the bitterest fight for civilization ever fought. The work has an encyclopaedic range with many references to cosmology, philosophy and science. Christ and Satan have rival New World Orders. Book 2 is about von Stauffenberg’s bomb plot against Hitler, book 5 is on Auschwitz. The history of Western ideas is presented in invocations to poets, philosophers and mystics of the past, and the whole work is firmly in the tradition of Homer, Virgil, Dante and Milton in synthesizing religious, philosophical, political and scientific ideas into an integral renewal of the vision of the Fire at the heart of Christianity. Using the conflict between Eisenhower and Hitler in the last year of the Second World War as its narrative metaphor, the work explores the rival New World Orders of Christ and Satan. The poem’s narrative vitality was praised by the late Poet Laureate, Ted Hughes. It is, like Paradise Lost, a millenarian work.
In the setting of World War 2 all the major themes of the 20th century are found: a European consciousness, American influence, the Atomic Age, the move toward a single world government and the rise of Russia in Eastern Europe. Overlord draws together the threads of intrigue and hidden power struggles to reveal the untold story of the last great war. Hagger describes Hitler, Stalin and Roosevelt as pawns of American-European internationalist forces seeking world domination, while Eisenhower – in charge of the war – struggles against these forces as he tries desperately to create a more decent world.
Inspired by Virgil’s Aeneid, Hagger sees Eisenhower as a modern-day Augustus seeking a universal peace and envisioning the heaven and hell inherent in the proposals for a world government – a theme of Hagger’s later study of the 20th century, The Syndicate. Like Virgil’s Aeneid, which celebrated Augustus’s new order, Overlord’s underlying theme is the yearning for universal peace which can be found in contemporary attempts to create a world government to coincide with the new millennium. In a fast-paced narrative, Hagger unlocks the occult beliefs and attitudes of the main players, so we can begin to gain insight into the motivations behind even their most genocidal actions. A fundamental struggle between good and evil unfolds, and from the despair and reign of Darkness that was Auschwitz rises the millennial vision of Light.
Renaissance critics regarded epic as the highest poetic form because of the encyclopaedic quality of its narrative. Homer, Virgil, Dante and Milton all synthesized religious, philosophical, political and scientific ideas into an integrated vision not only of their own beliefs but the beliefs of their respective cultures. Nicholas Hagger has performed the same feat despite the decline of Western culture, and has done so by renewing the vision of the Fire at the heart of Christianity.
In Greater Detail
Written in blank verse with a panoramic visionary sweep that embraces higher and lower worlds within his Universalist scheme, Overlord is a contemporary epic poem in the tradition of Homer’s Iliad, Virgil’s Aeneid and Milton’s Paradise Lost. Continuing the mystical vision of Dante’s Divine Comedy and the concern for civilization of Pound’s Cantos, the poem focuses on the last year of the Second World War viewed from the higher world; and on its conflicting leaders, the Universalist Cosmic Christ and Cosmic Satan.
This epic about the most significant event of the 20th century records the struggle between Eisenhower’s forces to defeat Hitler and, at another level, the Cosmic Christ’s struggle with Lucifer. It reflects the conflict between the forces of Light and order which seek to restore peace, and the forces of Darkness and devastation which lay behind the evil of Auschwitz. In the course of treating this hugely important, Tolstoyan metaphysical theme in a work that recalls Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling, Nicholas Hagger reveals the laws that govern history and the ordering of the universe.
Drawing on the hidden history of the 20th century and its myths, he tells the truth about the Second World War, how a modern “siege of Troy” took place, and reveals a universe ruled by the divine Light. The attempt by some of our contemporaries to create a world government centred on the UN in September 2000 may be as significant to our time as was Augustus’s peace to Virgil’s time, and Overlord focuses on aspirations to create a universalist world government and contrasts the Cosmic Satan’s nightmare aspirations that led the world into war with the Cosmic Christ’s universal peace.
Nicholas Hagger sees Hitler, Stalin and Roosevelt as being manipulated by American-European internationalist forces that seek world domination, and his Aeneas, Eisenhower, who is in charge of the war, has to work within these forces as he tries to create a more decent world. While telling a fascinating story with strong narrative pull, Hagger gets inside their occult beliefs and attitudes so that even their most genocidal actions become imaginatively understandable. Behind the conflict between Light and Darkness in Overlord is the entire intellectual conflict of the 20th century, and by focusing on the events between D-Day and the fall of Berlin which have shaped the last fifty years (the rise of America, the decline of Europe, the expansion of Communism into Eastern Europe, the birth of the atomic age and the Cold War, and pressure for a UN-led world government) Hagger’s epic makes sense of the 20th century and gives new understanding of the present.
The conflicts between Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill, Eisenhower and Montgomery, and Hitler and his Generals are handled with a Homeric mastery that moves easily between formal diplomacy and bitter antagonism. As the powerful forces who influenced the outcome at Yalta are still operating in our own time and seek to mark the millennium by creating a world government, Overlord makes sense of the 20th century and gives a new understanding of the present. Following the Elizabethans in finding his theme in historical events, taking his structure from classical epic and Milton, and reconciling classical balance, the Metaphysicals’ and Platonist Romantics’ “One Spirit” and the Modernists’ concern with civilization to unify many poetic traditions, in his Universalist epic Nicholas Hagger reveals a divine universe in which Light and Darkness are in perpetual conflict (but underlying harmony) and the forces of Light have to fight hard to retain their upper hand on earth.
But fundamentally the epic is about the struggle between good and evil, Light and darkness, in war and peace that concerned Tolstoy, and out of the temporary triumph of Darkness in Auschwitz comes the Paradisal, millennial vision of Light at the end. With a theme that straddles Europe and America and a European-American sensibility that sets his work in every European country, Hagger relates the most important event of the 20th century to Nature, overt and hidden aspects of the Age, a divine universe, and Heaven and Hell. History, spiritual vision, imagination and a powerful metaphysical eye are all integrated in a unitive finale which presents the mysterious universe in all its layers and understands excesses of evil and killing in terms of a wonderful conception of the whole. Like Donne, Hagger reflects the new scientific and philosophical ferment of the Age, and his unitive vision has created a work that towers in size and scope like a mountain over a flat landscape.
The Back Cover Says
Overlord is the first major poetic epic in the English language since Milton’s Paradise Lost, presented in one volume here for the first time.
Written in blank verse, with a panoramic visionary sweep that embraces higher and lower worlds within a universalist scheme, it is a contemporary epic poem (as much American as English) in the tradition of Homer’s Iliad and Virgil’s Aeneid. Drawing as they do, on a single defining event for civilisation, it focuses on World War II and General Eisenhower’s pursuit of Hitler and the fall of Berlin (our Troy); the battles and the suffering, and the hidden conflicts between Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill, Eisenhower and Montgomery, and Hitler and his generals.
In dealing with these powerful forces, still operating in our own time, Overlord makes sense of the 20th century and gives a new understanding of the present.
“He hits a pace, a tilt, that really carries the reader along….Everything comes as a subordinate clause to his dramatic momentum – a hand waving out of the express train window.”
Ted Hughes, then Poet Laureate