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The Black Isle by Francis McGreechin

Francis McGreechin is a poet based in Glasgow who travels and works in Europe. His poetry has been published in the New River Press Yearbook 2019.

In Christian folklore, it is said that the mythical garden of Eden lies somewhere at the source of the river Nile. The birth place of Adam. But there is another little known creation myth. That man was first born on an island off the west coast of Scotland. That Adam crawled out of the sea. Nurtured and protected as a child by the populating seals that would inhabit the island shores. A blind, mute hermaphrodite... the first Adam.The origins of this mythical island is no longer known, but is said to be submerged somewhere in the Celtic seas, between Scotland and Ireland.

The Black Isle

I am

a black isle

wild stone

blind tide obsidian

I am

black pearl

darkness of no division

a sackcloth moon

I am

light stunned rocks

Gull torn

mute cry of heaven

White swell

grey granite sea

sounds the distance

I am of

no country


bright worm sprung from mud


unvoiced... breath

that yawns the infant cry.

and all the stones that did not speak

an androgynous face in unformed darkness

I am

a black isle.


out of stillness...


In the dust shell evening fade of silence

mewling suckle


dumb air

flesh winds crack/

frozen needle blast/

oblique eye zones



Mother breast of sea

...he ate of darkness and sleepless song of space

Untouched by the frameless void with only the surf of the ocean and the cradling bark of the

waves milking the dark space of the infinite

Adam lay down to rest

... and death had no name

O lethe drops

On wings of white sleep ....enter Uriel,

a bright spirit

and uttered the celestial language of God

in which he named all things to Adam.


and ye shall know the secret meaning and truth of all things

For I am thy messenger Uriel

of him that sent down the fire from the heavens

and flung ye up from the hollow dust

And from thine eyes I cast thee out O shade

and free thy feeble tongue from mewling sup

From the infernal bawl of darkness I raise thee

and call to thee


Adam stood before the dawn of time

immaculate upon the pristine shore.

Uriel spoke...

And to every thing of high and low estate

I give to thee a name

And all that is of light, shall shineth in the day

And all that is coveted and hidden, shall remain of what is dark

And all that is mean and foul shall crawl upon the earth

and blush in the face of his righteous truth

And Adam saw in the brilliance of the light, a golden orb

womb the heavens, illuminate every

shape and shade of the earth

Amorphous kelp looms the craggy shore...

like an after birth placenta

Priapic granite thrusts, erotogenic

through the pregnant sway of rolling mist

Muscle mollusc and shell...tenacious

cleave the stones, a motley cornucopia thickens

Snipe nipping the larva on the backward tide

Murmurs the sea in ancient light

Swerving the clouds, an Albatros swoons from the heights

his grey shadow tipping the white foam of the waves

A Leviathan, crescent humped, swells the deep

Fawns leap, in a dance with the blown leaves, on pastures green

And in the far of the distance... Adam saw the vanishing white peaks

of seven holy mountains

Nine Angels flaming in the towering heavens

A vernal moon rise up mysterious, in the night sky

He saw the boundless unnumbered stars in the firmament

wash there face in the slow breath of a restless tide

And time moved like a fleeting ocean dream

In the days of Adam


From the drift of the deep

he would hear the mournful cry of the

siren call from the sea

And in a vision he saw the naked branches of a tree

drip with blood under the sickle moon

And Adam was estranged from the creatures of the earth

He felt the dark wolf of loneliness surge up and

immerse his body, his heart crushed with

dreadful black pity

He met the image of himself walking upon the shore

...and saw that he was naked

and felt ashamed

In the saline garden

...he wept.

In dark days of long repose

Adam would dwell upon his fall

The white pearl tears of the Moon Goddess

in opposition to Apollo, pale on the

broken mirror of the sea

A Storm Petrel shrill cracks the heavens

as he stood upon an invisible shore

His thoughts stretched out across the

unbroken arc of the infinite

And he was set between two winds

East and the West

Two worlds in opposition

Man divided against himself

Adam's dream...

I knew not of death... and death knew me not

...and yet I must know his face


I cannot reach you...

across the cinders

of time…

the serpent light echoes

meta incognita

wild grey eyes of the granite sea

doom cracked world

black swell of light

language is a vortex of death

the wynde came over the cliffs

rayne and hayle drowned the lungs of the sky

stars glimmer in the infinite void

and giants walked upon the earth

stone upon stone

leaf upon leaf... in opposition

a foot print in the sand

a broken christ on the shore

O lost...

unknown limit...

leaf of bright water blood tide

blind moon

the carcass of an Ox stripping the wind

dreams withered on the blossom of the cherry tree

the stone suffering silence

broken wings of the world

I am a black isle.

After Eden

Out of that desolation we where born (Edwin Muir) Scotland 1941

We touched it...

Something brighter than ourselves

pierced through a hand

Here where the wind began

and is now

Beyond the broken stones of the shore

dissolved in the infinite.

We touched it... once

in an instant

Its dew wet eye already leaving

before it began to speak

Ebbing in the tide

birth of ruin on a bare bone cross

A pellucid passage through the gates of Eden

Our souls dumb as new born children

Indifferent to its voice

The Drunken Forest

I too have passed through the gate

Where stars fell like flames from the trees

Where Jacob wrestled with the Angel

Hands cupped in thorn betrayal

And like the drugged beast

I too ... have wandered lost in a drunken forest at night


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