My musical tastes are somewhat of a paradox. On the one hand, I admire songwriters who can write lyrics that are nebulous and vague, yet at the same time aesthetic and cohesive. However, I also like to know what a song is about. Thus I often find myself trying to find meaning in vague songs.
“China Roses” (lyrics by Roma Ryan, music by Enya) is a sufficiently vague song, but the words seem to indicate something about the author’s beliefs about the hereafter. The first verse reads thus:
Who can tell me if we have heaven?
Who can say the way it should be?
Moonlight holly, the Sappho Comet,
Angel tears below a tree.
While the subsequent verses seem to shed little light on the question posed, the last verse picks up where the first ended:
I know that if I have heaven,
There is nothing to desire.
Rain and river, a world of wonder,
May be paradise to me.
The first option presented is that heaven does exist. If this is the case, nothing on earth can compare to its beauty. The second option is that there is nothing beyond the physical life. In this case, Roma seems to be saying that simply the beauty of the natural world is enough.
Perhaps I am incorrectly analyzing the song, but it really seems that Roma Ryan is casting doubt on the existence of heaven—or at least our ability to know whether it exists. Now whether Enya herself thinks this way, I cannot say. She is Catholic, so I would imagine she believes in heaven. Of course various other songs that the two have co-authored seem to point to their being theistic (see “Athair ar Neamh” and “Journey of the Angels” ), and Enya recorded “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” and “Oíche Chiúin” (Silent Night) on her most recent album.
But enough speculation. Enya is a very talented musician. Roma Ryan is a very talented lyricist. Heaven exists because God says it does. And that settles it.