The following description was written by the researcher Alec Mishory.
Bialik's poem "On an Autumn Day" recounts the poet’s first source of poetic inspiration. In a letter he sent to the artist, the poet requested that he include
A genteel motherly woman (the symbol of a Muse) in the form of a young widow, deep in sorrow, standing next to her only orphaned son,
a child whose eyes are those of a poet, dreamy and doleful. She caresses his head with a tremble as if trying to protect him from evil…
Bialik's concise request shows his ability to summarize verbally the gist of his poem, focusing on an abstract entity, to which the poem is dedicated - inspiration, or his personal poetic spirit. Budko did not adhere to this explicit instruction. The illustration he made for this poem shows the interior of a dark room, lit by faint light emanating from a window. Two gigantic wings attached to a human figure cover and protect a child, who rests on her knees. His eyes are wide open. His expression matches the following verses of the poem unequivocally:
"She gazed [at me] gloomily, her look suggested widowhood, bitterness, bereavement, and motherly compassion…
everywhere I turn I see her sad face, it never stops haunting me"
One may wonder how can an artist depict a figure of "a young widow" or "a child whose eyes are those of a poet"? Facial features and body language are the only means available to artists when faced with the need to depict human feelings and psychological states. Budko succeeded in satisfying the poet's wishes, in that the feelings conveyed in his poem – compassion, sadness, protection from evil, warmth, softness, and trembling – are summarized visually in the face of the winged figure. It appears to the child speaker as a revelation or as an apparition, based entirely on the poem's verses: "On a moonlit night, when light is shed on my black ground, then she appears as a shadow, as if in a dream, slowly moving in front of me”.
The way in which the artist placed two figures in the virtual space of the illustration makes readers/spectators conceive the mystical figure as residing in the child-speaker's thoughts. Illustrators cannot use a poet's verbal means when they try to depict thoughts; the only way available to them is to depict the object of the hero's thoughts, and the hero himself, in such a way that would make spectators believe that the hero is not looking at the object of his thoughts. They choose a specific moment from the progression of the verbal narrative and turn it into an a-temporal moment. They thus create for us a visual image that we can read or decipher in a way that is not linear, that is naturally different from the way in which we read a verbal text.
The child's wide-open eyes in Budko's illustration stare at us spectators/readers. They make us share his thoughts and thus, although it is not corporeal at all, we too are able to behold his imaginary apparition. When we read poetry, we take it for granted that the poet speaks of thoughts and contemplations. Conveying this in visual terms is a complex phenomenon. Budko's illustration is clearly a great independent visual response to the text of Bialik.