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Sister Windy Deconstructs Orinoco Flow

Over the large wooden door of a stately old school building in Dublin repose the words: "Roma Ryan's High, School," below which in tiny letters can be seen "and Petting Zoo. Surrender Hope, all Ye who enter Here, for Hope has no place in a Student's Heart."

Within these hollowed and hallowed walls, the Principal, the kindly but eccentric Mother Superioriosa, looks down happily at her desk. There lies the signed and sealed contract of a new teacher, Sister Windy, a native of Windypeg, Canada. Mother Superioriosa smiles in relief: she was afraid that she herself might have to teach "Roma Ryan 101" in Room 102, at 105 in the afternoon, but now - well -she can go play with her pet llama, Perulla Clack.

Meanwhile, in Room 102:

Good afternoon, my dear studnuts. I am Sister Windy, and I am delirious to bring you this new course: "Understanding and Appreciating the Lyrics of Roma Ryan," generously refunded by OnlyTimex Watches, on sale everyday in the Coffeeteria downstairs.

I would like to begin by saying what a lovely girl Enya was when I taught her piano at the Donegal Boarding School for Girls Fleeing a Very Large Family (DBSFGFAVLF). Of course, one can't teach a piano much, but I at least I tried.

Enya was very quiet, I think mainly because, coming from such a large family, she had never heard the sounds of silence before. Of course, she was also very intelligent! Whenever I asked her a question, she always knew the answer, but, curiously, prefaced it with a long series of "dum dum dum dums." I then had to teach her Latin, so that she would realize that the plural of "dum" was "da", not "dums." She then correctly switched to "da da da da" before every question. I was ever so proud!

Now, Enya herself did not do much with lyrics - she preferred bowling with Rosie, actually - so I introduced her to my Irish Idle, Roma Shane Ryan. Roma and I were, in our traditional habits, shooting pool and having a Guinness or two together every week or so, and one night I inculcated her all about the little "dum dum" girl from Donegal. She was enrapturated, and so I arranged a meeting. And thereby the course of musical history was changed forever. Now, aren't I just serendipitous? (That was a rhetorical question, Miss Spoken, you can put your dictionary away, away, away.)

And so I would now like to expunge my entire teaching career in explicating Roma's lyrics, written for Enya, who dedicated all her songs to me in gratitude for all the "da da da" I taught her, but somehow forgot to give me a cut of the royalties - well, I did once cut Camilla, but I'd rather not go there right now, Badmorals, that is. Such a lovely castle though - I must tell Enya about it. Scotland is so lovely for two weeks in July. But I digress…

I shall begin, accordianly, with a lesion on the lyrics to the beloved Orinoco Flow, but first I must sail away into my private little back room here to find some Guin....water to help me speak moistly and expeditiously to you all. Be right back, classh!

(Tempus fugited…).

There! Now, studnuts, are we all ready to begin our lesion? Good!

We shall begin with the beginning because I am a linear thinker after all. I have tried thinking out of the box, but they keep pushing me back in. Who, you ask, is "they," Miss TreedCat - why, those invisible aliens who inhabit the bodies of forum-people. I see forum-people everywhere, that's what I told Bruce Willis once.

In the beginning, Roma said:

Let me sail, let me sail

Now, classh, this is a noseworthy example of the literary device called "repetitio." To reinforce one's theme, one repeats it (as I fear I shall have to do many times after eating a garlic-pepper sandwich for lunch). Anyway, we must first ask who, or what, is sailing?

One would think it to be a person, but it might be a talking ship, or even the Ghost of Gilligan's Ireland, so let us, for the time being, refer to it as a "persona," and hope it doesn't mind. This persona wants to sail, and evacuates the following command:

Let the Orinoco flow

Ah ha! The writer has fooled us! We imagined a big sailing ship at sea, the waves pounding against it, like my head feels after Saturday evening bowling with Roma. But no, we are transported, instantly (as in "Beam us up, Scotty") to the Orinoco River. Now, this river is NOT famous for carrying large sailing ships, so we must ask if the captain is lost. Ah, the famous "lost captain" motif: "O captain, my captain"…Yes, many a captain lost has been found, thanks to our beloved field tripe guide, Amazing Grace.

Then we are impregnated with:

Let me reach, let me beach

Now, Roma, rogue that she is, surprises us once again: she only wants to reach so that she may beach! Now we realize, in profound astonishment, that our persona is either a beach bunny in search of sun and tans, OR a whale with a really bad sense of direction!

What next, you dare to ask?

On the shores of Tripoli

Oh my! We are once again instantly transported, this time to Tripoli. Now that IS fast sailing! But why, you ask? Of course you do, Miss Rhine 2004. Well, you see, the sun is brighter and the tans are darker near Tripoli than near the Orinoco. Or, perhaps our poor-pilot whale is even more spatially challenged than we had imagined!

Let us continue on:

Let me sail, let me sail

Aha! "Repetitio" again, again, again, just in case you fell asleep during the previous verses. I did indeed hear strange snoring sounds coming from the back of the room, where, I now see, a little girl, perhaps 2 years old at most, is sitting in play pen Box 5. She must have wandered in from the Petting Zoo Annex, which is now having a recessive gene.

What is your name, little one at the back of the room? OperaKait de Brennan et de Poto? Well, welcome, Miss Pothole, and will you please stop throwing a tantrum at Master Card? Thank you, dear!

In any case, classh:

Let me crash upon your shore

Oh dear, Roma has pulled the proverbial rug out from under our dainty little feet! The persona has a death wish!! No pleasant sail this, but a mad dash across the globe in search of the final departure. Perhaps some antidepressants are needed? Do whales take antidepressants? Or do they prefer talking with Dr. Phil? So many questions, so little time!

Let me reach. let me beach

Ah, more of that ingenuous "repetitio"! Shall we repeat that? Good, now all of you say "repetitio". Excellent! Now say it again. There, that should now be imprinted on your remaining frontal lobes.

far beyond the Yellow Sea

Oh dear, spatially challenged still, the persona suddenly beams up (using the beam of the ship of course) to the Yellow Sea, which isn't really very yellow any more due to global swarming. Note that the persona wishes to go BEYOND the Yellow Sea. Now, what lurks there? Is there a better beach perhaps? Or, perhaps some eligible sperm whales to play with?

Well, dear classh, you can now see that Roma has left us totally puzzled by this stanza; to fully understand her intent, we must sail on! But I must first take a break now and go to the loo, or is it step to the loo, or skip to the loo? I get confused sometimes…

(As Sister Windy exits, stage right, the little 2 year old left at the back of the room says, ominously, "I am the walrus." But the good Sister returns.)

Now, boys and girls, are we all settled down? Excellent -- lettuce review:

In the first stanza of "Orinoco Flow," Roma confuses us to no end or porpoise: will the second stanza light up her life, or even perhaps ours? We can only hope:

From Bissau to Palau, in the shade of Avalon

Aha, Roma is giving us a geography lesson! Won't Brother National Geographicus object at the next faculty brawl, er, meeting!! But, then, he is always so objectionable.

So, take out your atlases (no, Mr. Domed, leave that big guy with the world on his shoulders alone). As you can see, if you manage to open your eyes, Bissau just happens to be the port and capital of Guinea-Bissau, West Africa. So, we now find ourselves far from the Yellow Sea indeed - we have sailed away all the way to West Africa! You see, this is no common ship Roma has built: it is a supersonic nautical vessel, the "Concourse".

Now Palau is a country in the western Pacific Ocean (made up of 340 coral and volcanic islands -most of which, wisely, allow no human cohabitation), so our mystery ship has now sailed away, faster than the speed of light or sound, from Africa to the Pacific, in the shade of Avalon

Well, obviously, after such a high speed journey we need to rest in the shade, but WHY the shade of Avalon? Does Roma harbour a visit from the Avalon Lady with her case of stinky perfumes and overpriced cosmetics? Is she on the look out for a King named Arthur? Or a singer named Frankie? Please write a 500 page essay on this for our classh tomorrow.

And so we must go on:

From Fiji to Tiree, and the Isles of Ebony

Well, we all know that Fiji is a country in the South Pacific, don't we, Miss Guided? Thus Roma obviously wants us to focus our puny imaginations on the Pacific, intuiting that her message in the song is of a peaceful, pacifist nature.

Tiree, however, places us in shock and awe, and also in need of instamatic defibrillation! In literary terms this is called "weirdum juxtapositionum." From Fiji in the peaceful Pacific to Tiree, an Ornery island off Scotland the Brave. Now, we all know that the Scots are not pacific or even specific, for that mater. So why are we there? Yes, Davyd, because it is indeed a land chalk full of Celts who know better than to get themselves kilt. And there is always Badmorals Castle too.

As for the Isles of Ebony, well, dear studnuts, this is a shameless plug for Roma's beloved daughter Ebony, who, it seems, now has her own archipelago -- but where? And how much did it cost in euros? Ah, these are important questions which we must struggle to answer, or, at least, guess at. I myself would love to own my own archipelago, the Windy Islands, but, again, we must follow the yellow mud brick road:

From Peru to Cebu hear the power of Babylon

Now, we all know where Peru is, don't we? "In the Petting Zoo," you say, little OperaKait? Playing with Mother Superioriosa? Oh deer, I do hope your recessive gene is almost over.

Anyway, there is our ship--or spatially confused whale--BACK in the Pacific once again; this is also "weirdum juxtapositionum." But it does indeed reveal Roma's abiding (and perhaps Freudian) fixation with that particular ocean. After all, it is indeed a very BIG ocean.

Now Cebu is in the Philippines. All the way across the wide Pacific we have now travelled, again so quickly we did not feel ourselves move! My, it leaves me bad breathless! Let me just take a quick swig, er, drink of this special harvest Blisterine. There, much better, so:

hear the power of Babylon

Well, now we come to the crux of the matter! All these places are broadcasting the many babels of Babylon! It is the power of the Babylon Broadcasting Corporation (aka the BBC) that is ruling our lives and determining our journey. Thus Roma, ever the unsocial activist, rails against the media in this powerful verse, urging all of us to take arms against a sea of…Oh, my heart just throbs with incitement!

From Bali to Cali - far beneath the Coral Sea

Bali High, everyone - didn't some of you flunk out of there? Nevermind, none of us is perfect or even pluperfect. And only a few of us are in fact present.

Bali, of course, is located in Indonesia - thus, once again the Pacific Ocean floods Roma's mind, and we stand amazed, and rather wet as well.

Now Cali, which so fortuitously rhymes with Bali that one almost thinks Roma intended this, can be found in Colombia - where the coffee is high as an elephant's eye -- just look on your maps, studnuts. See it? Good! Why are we there now, though? We have yet again traversed the entire Pacific Ocean at the speed of sound and with the sound of speed - oh dear, I think I need some dramamine. Excuse me a moment....

There, I feel much better.

far beneath the Coral Sea

Ah, the stanza's outstanzalizing conclusion! Off the coast of Australia (not to be confused with Austria, Miss Taken) we now dive beneath the Coral Sea, as if the persona were indeed a whale! And what lies underneath the Coral Sea? Directionally challenged Aussies? Off-course Kiwis? Perhaps the answer is, simply, coral? Think about that for tomorrow, classh.

Well, to sump up:

If Roma's first stanza left us in a tizzy,

her second stanza will make us dizzy!!


More dramamine, please.....................

(Sister retreats to her private back room, and returns, carrying a very large bottle of pink stuff.)

Back again, my dear studnuts! Isn't it amazing what a good dose of Pepto-Brennan ™ will do for anyone with mal de mer? Not that this is a commercial -- oh no, for we are on the payroll of OnlyTimex Watches ™, as you should december.

Now, back to our literary execration of "Orinoco Flow." We have seen, haven't we, how Roma takes us back and forth across the Pacific Ocean, again and again and again, and... um, excuse me, I think I need more Pepto-Brennan. There now. Well, in the next stanza we will see what literary critics call "el shockou" - that is, a deepening element of surprise! Here we go, so hold on:

From the North to the South

Oh my, what an "el shockou" we have here! From East to West we turn North and South. No longer going across, we are now going up and down, up and down - I do need a wee bit more of this Pepto-Brennan. Not that I am recommending this to anyone, off course.

Ebudae into Khartoum

Now, we come to the poetic crux: our persona is now sailing between the Hebrides of Scotland the Brave, all the way south into deepest Africa! Oh, what a very Freudian journey, what excitement stirs my Jung heart!

From the deep Sea of Clouds

Oh yes, the Sea of Clouds IS very deep indeed; why, once Sister Ethereale fell into it and only her Wings (and not Sir Paul, who was sealing some sort of agreement at the time) kept her afloat. So Roma now takes us further along her sentimental journey to the Yellow Mountains of China! Yunhai in Chinese! Remember the Yellow Sea in stanza one? Good! This recollection of the first stanza is known as "ringo-starr-compositio." Now, make sure you write that down: ringo-star-compositio! Just drum it into your heads, dears.

To the island of the moon

The moon! La Luna!!! Yo soy sauce!! Oh how brilliant, even with reflected light! We move, ever so softly, from the heights of China to the depths of the moon. And there are so many islands on the moon - who could count them all! Put your hand down, Mr Davyd, that was a rhetorical question. But note that Roma only has ONE island of the moon in mind here; which can it be? That, classh, is your homework for next week.

Carry me on the waves

Ah, ringo-starr-compositio again rears its glorious and hairy head! We are back, on the ship or with our hapless whale, indeed, the Prince of Whales, on the waves of the ocean. But, is it the ocean of the Earth or of the Moon? That is the question!

to the lands I've never been

Well, of course, our persona wishes to go where no persona, not even William Shatner, has gone before! The drive to explore, to go beyond, is deep within the human psyche; we must go further into, into, into.... O my! My heart overflows with excrement!

Carry me on the waves

Yes, Miss Informed, that is indeed incremental "repetitio"! Very good, for you…………..

To the lands I've never seen

Why go somewhere familiar? Especially if you have an American Depressed credit card. Our persona must go to lands it/she/he (whatever) has never set eyes upon. And note the cross-reference to the second line above this one! "Been" versus "Seen:" a subtle, yet important philosophical distinction is being drawn. Speaking of drawing, Miss Princess Donegal, please stop doodling milk cartoons and pay attention!

Now, classh, we can see that this stanza reinforces the message of the previous stanza; this is called "emphasasio." We are now fully committed! That is, I mean, committed to our personal voyage of self discovery! Isn't Roma wonderful in conveying the deeply seated human urge to move on, to explore, to find a raison d'etre among the bran flakes of Life?

Well, I am so tired after all this excitement that I am going to the rest room for a bit. Work on your assignments and please do not disturb Mr Borus, who, I see, has fallen asleep once again.

(Tempus fugitted, again….)

Classh, come to order! All of you, stop singing "turn it up, turn it up, turn it up" and leave those Bunion Burners alone! Good, now we can finish our analysis of "Orinoco Flow."

In the final stanza we will see that Roma, devious as ever, leaves us with what is known, in literary circles, which I go around in quite often... but I "suspended inquisitio". Got that? Write it down clearly, so I can see clearly now the rain is gone....I digress again, oh dear………there must be something in the rain. Let us move on before it comes again:

We can sail, we can sail (etc)....

Yes, once again "repetitio" rules the day. Roma is so lymphatic about sailing, but wait! El shockou again: it is now WE and not ME! Previously the persona was singing in the first person singular, but now the embrace of Roma expands to include us all! WE can sail, we can come along on this mystical, magical mystery tour - brilliant segue, isn't it, studnuts?

We can steer, we can near

I do indeed hope that at least one of us can steer, but examine the "juxtapositio" here: steer and near; of course, Roma wants us to steer to a conclusion, to come near to the point of no return, no second chances:

with Rob Dickins at the wheel

Oh my, another el shockou! WE are not wanted to steer, rather one Rob whose last name our secondary school computer will most likely censor as too photographic for Mother Superioriosa's tender, unexposed ears! Now, do you remember "A Tale of Two Cities?" Well, Rob is not that one, but his distant relative; he is very distant now because he has, apparently, been steering this spatially confused vessel all over the planet! If you feel sea sick, call Rob at 2 am, at 1888979768501.

We can sigh, say goodbye

Yes, the song is sailing away unto its conclusion, as Roma so subtly indicates in this verse. Saying goodbye often makes one sigh, now, doesn't it? So sad, the long long journey must end, and we must all say our adio-o-os goodbyes. My heart breaks at the thought! Has anyone seen the CrazyGlue?

Ross and his dependencies

Major, Richter level 8.0 el shockou here: who is Ross, and what is he dependent on? Does Roma speak of his children, or, more darkly, of his medicinal usage? Is Ross a co-dependent persona himself? Well, THAT is your assignment for the next psychology classh with Brother Psycho Tick.

We can sail, we can sail....

"Conclusio exposita" here: "repetetio" also - see how clever Roma is? Sail on and sail on, beneath the silvery moon; you see, Roma's point is that the journey of life cannot and does not conclude. Even if we reach and beach, our memory will live on! Life is thus seen to be a meaningful long long journey, snared in drums. We are all in the same boat as we sail away, sail away. And so, classh, the song ends on a joyous note of the triumph of life over death, akin to Beethoven's Ninth with its Ode to Toys! Brilliant, Roma, brilliant indeed.

Miss OperaKait, were you recording this lesion with that miniature michaeljacksonphone I now see? Well, then, Beat It! My inciting lesions are all protected by Coffee Right!

Well, studnuts, I am afraid that my cardial palpitations are increasing and I must go to the rest room for some more Pepto-Brennan. And, since the bell is about to go Ding Dong anyway, I shall remiss all of you from my mind, er, from my room. Till we meet again, ta ta - or is it tum tum?????