The “Abbie S.” Loads Paving – Snow

The tenth poem in “Maine Coast” by Wilbert Snow, “The Abbie S. Loads Paving” recollects they bygone days of three-masted sailing ships before they were replaced with “ugly barges bearing coastwise freight.” Please enjoy the first lines from one of Snow’s most memorable poems.

“The Abbie S. is comin’ in to get
A load of New York pavin’.” At this word
We joined the gang that sauntered toward the wharf,
Caught flounders, went in swimming, skipped flat stones,
Or listened to the golden cadences
Of old Tom Wiley’s stories: how the boys
At fourteen years, and how they made
The South Sea Island in a raging storm,
Were blown away, and forced to spend a month
Among the palm trees, and the cocoanuts,
And naked cannibals with dark brown skins.

Old men like Tom had always gone to sea
On huge square-riggers; they despised windjammers
Far more than we abominated barges;
And one, who twitched a pirate’s hardened mouth,
Whose eyes were bloody, and whose leathery fists
Were always clenched as if expecting trouble,
Who were stout cowhide boots, the last red pair
To link our coast with days of Captain Kidd,
Growled out that morning in a frightening tone,
While this three-master glided up the cove.

“Collected Poems” of Wilbert Snow is available at

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