The book was published a year after the poet's death and there is no indication of the identity of the illustrator. It measures 13 x 15.5 cms and is published by Wise-Parslow in New York. I include it here because of the extraordinary quality of the illustrations whose stylisations sit so effectively alongside the poem. The symmetries of the page and book designs are worth studying closely.
There is a garish, rich and fruity American illustrative style of this period often involving palm trees and spiky vegetation. It appears mostly in advertising in the quality magazines, drawing our attention to cruises in the Caribbean, or real estate in Florida. Here the line is sensitive and varied, closest in the UK to some of Tom Purvis' posters.There is a photograph Purvis exhibited and published that was the basis of one of his holiday posters in which a seagull sublimely floated in a clear blue sky. Perhaps a photographic source lies at the heart of the works of this anonymous illustrator.
Carruth's poem finds itself within many on-line compilations of verse, and also deserves to go into D.B.Wyndham Lewis' The Stuffed Owl, if only for the inclusion of "The jelly-fish and the saurian, And caves where the cave-men dwell..." in his evocation of Evolution.
Having challenged himself to rhyme with the word God, Carruth is led into some hilarious conceits well worth savouring..
The anonymous illustrator is forced into no such infelicities, allowed a limited range of pictorial motifs, and producing a controlled contrast of closed and open form,working tightly in a panelled page format and launching forth in the end papers, beautifully drawn and stylised. Given the choice, the anonymous illustrator chooses maize, a much more promising graphic challenge than golden rod.
Perhaps it was the poem itself that forced anonymity on this talented artist. At least in the film industry it is agreed that a dissatisfied director can adopt the name "Alan Smithee" on the credits. A similar device is need for the professional illustrator. I shall think about this.