As of 2019, only one photograph of Emily Dickinson has been fully authenticated: a daguerreotype taken in 1847, when Dickinson was sixteen years old. It is now in the possession of Amherst College, and this is the reproduction that Amherst makes available online.
As you see, it isn’t a very satisfactory representation. Its lighting is washed out and the image of the poet’s face is affected by motion blur. However, artificial-intelligence software is now making it possible for image processors like Photoshop to recover lost pixels and latent details, so here’s a refined view prepared with Topaz Studios’ AI Clear and Sharpen AI in stabilize mode.
* With all her brass agleam, Miss Howe passes Mr. Death on the right.
** Susan Howe is the author of a book called Pierce-Arrow. The Pierce-Arrow made of metal, photographed here, was an American luxury car of the early twentieth century. Susan Howe’s vehicle, the Pierce-Arrow made of words, is a rhapsody on themes of and by and about Charles Sanders Peirce, an American philosopher who wrote an essay called “How to Make Our Ideas Clear” and died in poverty.
*** Susan Howe is also the author of a book called My Emily Dickinson.
**** Mr. Casaubon’s punch line: In this image, Miss Dickinson may be the passenger in the ghostly vehicle on the right. Her driver slowly drove, according to the trip log, but even a heartbeat moves enough to make us and the record in images of our lives unclear.
Visible only in the tropics – that is, in the latitudes between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn – this is the zenith passage or Lahaina noon: the moment when the sun is directly overhead and an object standing vertically will cast no shadow. In the tropics it comes twice a year: when the sun is on its way north to the Tropic of Cancer (which it will reach at the summer solstice) and when it is on its way back south to the Tropic of Capricorn (which it will reach at the winter solstice). In Hawaii, where I took this picture today, the dates are in May and July.
And the picture’s title comes from a poem by Emily Dickinson, “I had been hungry all the years.”