In 1999, while working as his Literary Secretary, the Earl of Burford, a descendant of the 3rd Earl of Southampton (Shakespeare’s patron) and of the 17th Earl of Oxford and heir to the Dukedom of St Albans, made a selection of Nicholas Hagger’s poems that celebrates places in England, conveys his mystical awareness of the unity of the universe and places him in the visionary tradition of William Blake, the poet of ‘Jerusalem’ and “England’s green and pleasant land”. Soon after Visions of England was completed the Earl of Burford came to international attention when he leapt onto the Woolsack of the House of Lords in a principled protest against the Blair Government’s plan to abolish hereditary peers’ voting rights, which led to 92 remaining in the Lords. A few months later he left Nicholas Hagger’s employ and the selection was buried under papers for nearly 20 years.
In 2018 Nicholas Hagger came across Visions of England while preparing papers to send to his archive. It now seemed as if the selection had been made with Brexit in mind. The places are full of English history and culture, and the poems are prophetic in their anticipation of England’s new spirit of independence. These poems convey Englishness with a freshness and vividness that startle. The Earl of Burford is a prominent lecturer and biographer, and his selection is noteworthy for the metaphysical perspective he brings out in Nicholas Hagger’s profound poems whose traditional qualities constantly surprise and delight.
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This worthy volume doubtless will be ignored by the prevailing poetry establishment, which is precisely why I must review it. Why will it be ignored? The answer is because it’s founded on traditional poetical practices - anathema to today’s would-be literary ‘cognoscenti’ - and because the theme of the collection is traditional ‘Englishness’ with emphasis on the metaphysical rather than the secular. ...the contents of Visions of England should not be misconstrued or trivialised as merely ‘poems for Brexit’, or as a display of nostalgia for days of yore; far from it. They record profound impressions made upon the poet by an image of a receding England, still enchanted but now also admonitory in character. He both recovers a past and prefigures a future, affirming a circle, or cycle, of being. ~ Geoff Ward, Medium.com