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First Amendment Violation in Lafayette Park yesterday; ACLU contacted
|| 7/19/2008 || 3:29 pm || Comments Off on First Amendment Violation in Lafayette Park yesterday; ACLU contacted || ||

Brave New Voices in Lafayette Park

Youth poets from around the country pose for a group picture at Lafayette Park

A couple weeks ago I was contacted by my friend who owns a sound system that is frequently used for outdoor demonstrations, rallies, and press conferences. Since he has a couple of businesses that siphon much of his time, he normally contacts me about doing the sound for these events. Over the years I’ve helped a wide array of disparate groups amplify their voices and help facilitate their freedom of speech through my sound engineering skills.

Yesterday’s event was organized by a DC non-profit Sol y Soul in conjunction with Youth Speaks‘s 2008 Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Slam. Throughout last week over 450 different youths between the ages of 13 & 19 from around the world came to DC to compete, learn, and forge new friendships through spoken word poetry. This competition culminated into a final competition tonight in Lincoln Theater that will be recorded by HBO for a future episode of their Def Poetry series.

Friday afternoon’s event was called “Hear the Children Speak” and the theme of the poetry was about No Child Left Behind and America’s educational system. The permits allowed the organizers to construct a stage on the west side of Lafayette Park and have me setup a sound system that allowed each student the ability to recite their poetry on the microphone.

For the first two hours everything went superb, then a National Park Police Officer decided that their poetry, their 1st amendment, was too much and told one of the organizers we need to turn off the sound system.

I have done sound at Lafayette Park (also known as President’s Park, which is located just north of the White House) over a dozen times in the last few years and never before I have been told to turn off the sound system. I’ve been told to turn it down, but never off. After consulting with the organizers, I decided to contact the ACLU about what transpired and below is my initial e-mail which lays out exactly what happened:

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In Praise of a Contented Mind / My Mind to me a Kingdom is
|| 6/12/2008 || 12:19 am || Comments Off on In Praise of a Contented Mind / My Mind to me a Kingdom is || ||

Edward de Vere – 17th Earl of Oxford
from an engraving by J. Brown after G.P. Harding 1575
via Wikipedia


In Praise of a Contented Mind
My mind to me a kingdom is;
Such perfect joy therein I find
That it excels all other bliss
That world affords or grows by kind.
Though much I want which most men have,
Yet still my mind forbids to crave.

No princely pomp, no wealthy store,
No force to win the victory,
No wily wit to salve a sore,
No shape to feed each gazing eye;
To none of these I yield as thrall.
For why my mind doth serve for all.

I see how plenty suffers oft,
How hasty climbers soon do fall;
I see that those that are aloft
Mishap doth threaten most of all;
They get with toil, they keep with fear.
Such cares my mind could never bear.

Content I live, this is my stay;
I seek no more than may suffice;
I press to bear no haughty sway;
Look what I lack my mind supplies;
Lo, thus I triumph like a king,
Content with that my mind doth bring.

Some have too much, yet still do crave;
I little have, and seek no more.
They are but poor, though much they have,
And I am rich with little store.
They poor, I rich; they beg, I give;
They lack, I leave; they pine, I live.

I laugh not at another’s loss;
I grudge not at another’s gain;
No worldly waves my mind can toss;
My state at one doth still remain.
I fear no foe, nor fawning friend;
I loathe not life, nor dread my end.

Some weigh their pleasure by their lust,
Their wisdom by their rage of will,
Their treasure is their only trust;
And cloaked craft their store of skill.
But all the pleasure that I find
Is to maintain a quiet mind.

My wealth is health and perfect ease;
My conscience clear my chief defense;
I neither seek by bribes to please,
Nor by deceit to breed offense.
Thus do I live, thus will I die.
Would all did so as well as I!



Last night I was adding some new books to my shelves and decided to look at my old copy of the Norton Anthology of English Literature. I opened it up, turned a few pages and stumbled on to In Praise of a Contented Mind. It’s anonymous poem most commonly attributed to Edward Dyer but according to Norton, it was possibly written by Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford (painting above). According to the Oxfordian Theory, some believe that Edward de Vere was the poet who’s pseudonym was Shakespeare. I hold the opinion that Shakespeare was most likely a group of nobles who collaborated together to write under the pseudonym of Shakespeare because their status as nobles prevented their official authorship.

In 1588 William Byrd set the poem to music in Psalms, Sonnets, and Songs of Sadness and Piety, as “My Mind to me a Kingdom is.” This version (below) is attributed to Sir Edward Dyer and includes some modification to the original prose.



My Mind to me a Kingdom is
My minde to me a kingdome is,
such perfect joy therin I find,
That it excells all other blisse,
which God or Nature hath assign’d.
Though much I want, that most would have,
yet still my mind forbids to crave.

No princely port nor welthie store,
no force to winne a victorie,
no wyly wit to salve a sore,
no shape to winne a loving eye:
to none of these I yeld as thrall,
for why my minde despise them all.

I see that plentie surfeits oft,
and hastie clymbers soonest fall:
I see that such as are a loft,
mishap doth threaten most of all:
these get with toyle and keepe with feare,
such cares my minde can never beare.

I presse to beare no haughtie sway,
I wish no more then may suffice:
I doe no more than well I may,
look what I want my minde supplies,
loe thus I triumph like a King,
my minde content with any thing.

I laugh not at anothers losse,
nor grudge not at anothers gaine:
no worldly waves my minde can tosse,
I brooke that is anothers bane:
I feare no foe nor fawne on friend,
I loth not lyfe nor dread mine end.

My wealth is health and perfect ease,
and conscience cleere my chiefe defence,
I never seeke by brybes to please,
nor by desert to give offence:
thus doe I live, thus will I dye,
would all did so as well as I.



The score was mass produced as a broadside where it remained popular for over 100 more years. According to google, this posting is between the 15th and 30th mention of this poem on the internets.


click below to download a PDF of the score:


Related Poetry Entries:

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My Brash Poem from Artomatic 2008
|| 6/5/2008 || 5:32 pm || Comments Off on My Brash Poem from Artomatic 2008 || ||

Inverted scan of the poem

Brash is a poet that goes around Artomatic and leaves each artist a poem. Last week I noticed that my poem had been taped up to my exhibit space, so I decided to take it home, scan it, and post it here on-line. Word is that Brash will probably have a poem made for EVERY artist (thats a thousand poems!) at Artomatic 2008. Brash, if you are reading this, thank you!

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Remedia Amoris / The Cure For Love by Ovid
|| 4/3/2008 || 1:28 pm || Comments Off on Remedia Amoris / The Cure For Love by Ovid || ||

Remedia Amoris (Love’s Remedy or The Cure for Love) is a 814 line poem in Latin by the Roman poet Ovid written around 5 BC. The aim of the poem is to teach young men how they can avoid idealizing the women they love and to give assistance if love brings despair and misfortune.

I discovered this poem when I was researching antique stained glass sundials and I came to the initial conclusion that Ovid’s prose is visually interpreted on Blaeu’s world map from the mid-1600s (detail above). Late last night I found both the latin and translated version of the poem, so I decided to do something I wish there was more of on the internet: a side by side layout which shows the original Latin on the left and the translated English on the right.

To add a unique visual element to the poem, I made the line number (which came from the Latin text) the color of the English translation. This involved quite a bit of manual coding, but I think it makes the latin / english comparison easier and slightly more visually engaging. By using red & white type face and numerical indention, the layout looks like a creve coeur or broken heart when scrolling. I bolded one section for emphasis related it’s discovery [hint: around line #185].

There are a few translation discrepancies that I’ve found thus far and there are many others which come across slightly convoluted and require more inquiry, but overall the poem is quite interesting. It includes topics like tree grafting (Genetic Engineering Version 1.0), having multiple lovers, travelling, and what to do and not to do when getting over a relationship. It’s interesting how much things have changed in the last 2,000 years, and as cliche as it may sound, how much our emotions have stayed the same. We all face the same relationship troubles and like Ovid, there will always be people telling you how to deal with them.



If you’ve got about 45 minutes to spare, here is Ovid’s Remedia Amoris / The Cure For Love:
(You might need to widen your browser window to view the on-line polyglot correctly — it was originally design for a previous layout on this website. Drag the lower right hand corner to make the screen wider. Some browsers you can adjust the font size to achieve a similar result.)

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Only, in America
|| 7/4/2006 || 4:41 pm || Comments Off on Only, in America || ||

happy 230 years

In America

right now you are standing on stolen land
no matter where you are hearing this poem
i promise you below you is stolen land
was lakota was navajo was creek
was and was and is and is and
this fact does not change because you do not think about it
or you thought the last Indian died before you were born
or you were born 1/15 Apache
this poem is not blaming you but
allowing you an opportunity to do something
start by saying something
and from where you are standing
look North look South look West look East
and see the theft, the occupation happening now
and do something and start, start by saying something.

Suheir Hammad



poem: It’s gettin hotter in here
|| 9/13/2005 || 9:22 pm || Comments Off on poem: It’s gettin hotter in here || ||

I wrote this Monday night and performed it on Tuesday night at a packed Busboys & Poets for an Operation Ceasefire benefit. Definitely an awesome experience :-) I really liked that place- a lot, although its kinda weird witnessing gentrification before me. Regardless, the progressive bookstore, theater, cheap food, and free Wi-Fi makes it a tryst to not miss.

I would describe this poem as ecopoetry :-)

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The Journey
|| 2/10/2005 || 1:56 am || Comments Off on The Journey || ||

So I just got done archiving some audio for a friend and thought about performing something in two weeks at the next guerrilla poetry insurgency, and I remembered “The Journey,” my one and only poem. I wrote it in the middle of Colorado and the photograph in the flash animation below was the area that inspired me. I originally published this poem on my old blog. Regardless, I am glad I ride a bike….

The Journey

by
Nikolas Schiller


Written 6/10/03

The ride of my life,
Equipped with airbags for strife,
The continuous movement of my mind,
Aggregated into a system that binds.

The journey to a new place,
The bright sight of a new face,
Choosing success over humiliating disgrace.

Dynamic digital dilemmas with auspicious analog answers,
Are moving past me faster than I can see,
Behind me is a magnificent memory monorail,
A silent, succinct ,sophisticated reminder that does not fail.
A straight line of thought, out of iron it was wrought.
Before me lies an 8 lane highway,
Full of cars that keep my mind at bay.
A smog of thoughts, a haze of choice,
A catalytic converter searching for a voice,

So I attempt to choose the best path I can see,
A mental HOV lane seems the best for me.

The ride of my life,
4 wheel drive over strife,
The movement of diverse minds,
Rebellion of that which binds.

The journey to a new place,
The magic of a new face,
Living my life at my own pace.

Watch me as I move past unleaded lives,
With brute diesel force I keep on driving and thriving,
Watch me fulfill my Honda Hybrid hopes,
Obtain high octane memories while living free.
Turn on cruise control,
Swerve past mental speed bumps or the occasional pothole,
And finally check my emissions.

They are my impact on the environment,
The collective result of my present and past intent.
And I’m wishin’ that every emission is a positive addition to the tumultuous global condition.

The journey is its 22nd year, Yet I stand here in fear,
It must be engine trouble, Triple A is near.
20 more years until I’m 42, Yet I know not what to do.
I need a compass, I need a map,
And most of all, I want to avoid the mental trap.

Maybe I’ll be a nomad (I think that would be rad),
Maybe this mental stage is just a fad,
Or worse my journey will end rather sad,
But with effervescent charm, charisma, wit, and love,
I know that I have a copilot from above.

This life is merely a journey, and I need not worry.
Be content, pay rent, try not to get mentally bent,
On where I’m going, or how my life is flowing.

Maybe I should buy a smart car,
Maybe I should continue my journey from afar,
Or become a star,
Yet I know this-
I need to bring out the SUV within me.
A positive sport utility vehicle for change.

See, I stand here in the shadow of the front range,
Ready to turn off cruise control, ready to feel whole.

This is journey of my life,
Now standard with infinite airbags for strife,
Movement of my mind,
that is beginning to step out of a system that binds

The final destination is unimportant,
The journey is all that counts.

Alas, my blinker is on, a rest stop is ahead.
The journey must go on pause, its time for bed.
I must begin again with a clear and resolute head.



The Journey
|| 6/10/2003 || 8:04 pm || Comments Off on The Journey || ||

The Journey

by
Nikolas Schiller


Written 6/10/03

The ride of my life,
Equipped with airbags for strife,
The continuous movement of my mind,
Aggregated into a system that binds.

The journey to a new place,
The bright sight of a new face,
Choosing success over humiliating disgrace.

Dynamic digital dilemmas with auspicious analog answers,
Are moving past me faster than I can see,
Behind me is a magnificent memory monorail,
A silent, succinct ,sophisticated reminder that does not fail.
A straight line of thought, out of iron it was wrought.

Before me lies an 8 lane highway,
Full of cars that keep my mind at bay.
A smog of thoughts, a haze of choice,
A catalytic converter searching for a voice,

So I attempt to choose the best path I can see,
A mental HOV lane seems the best for me.

The ride of my life,
4 wheel drive over strife,

The movement of diverse minds,
Rebellion of that which binds.

The journey to a new place,
The magic of a new face,
Living my life at my own pace.

Watch me as I move past unleaded lives,
With brute diesel force I keep on driving and thriving,
Watch me fulfill my Honda Hybrid hopes,

Obtain high octane memories while living free.
Turn on cruise control,
Swerve past mental speed bumps or the occasional pothole,
And finally check my emissions.

They are my impact on the environment,
The collective result of my present and past intent.
And I’m wishin’ that every emission is a positive addition to the tumultuous global condition.

The journey is its 22nd year, Yet I stand here in fear,
It must be engine trouble, Triple A is near.
20 more years until I’m 42, Yet I know not what to do.
I need a compass, I need a map,
And most of all, I want to avoid the mental trap.

Maybe I’ll be a nomad (I think that would be rad),
Maybe this mental stage is just a fad,

Or worse my journey will end rather sad,
But with effervescent charm, charisma, wit, and love,
I know that I have a copilot from above.

This life is merely a journey, and I need not worry.
Be content, pay rent, try not to get mentally bent,
On where I’m going, or how my life is flowing.

Maybe I should buy a smart car,

Maybe I should continue my journey from afar,
Or become a star,
Yet I know this-
I need to bring out the SUV within me.
A positive sport utility vehicle for change.

See, I stand here in the shadow of the front range,
Ready to turn off cruise control, ready to feel whole.

This is journey of my life,

Now standard with infinite airbags for strife,
Movement of my mind,
that is beginning to step out of a system that binds

The final destination is unimportant,
The journey is all that counts.

Alas, my blinker is on, a rest stop is ahead.
The journey must go on pause, its time for bed.

I must begin again with a clear and resolute head.





The Daily Render By
A Digital Scrapbook for the Past, Present, and Future.

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Nikolas Schiller is a second-class American citizen living in America's last colony, Washington, DC. This blog is my on-line repository of what I have created or found on-line since May of 2004. If you have any questions or comments, please contact:

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  • thank you,
    come again!