The 1847 daguerreotype of Emily Dickinson, now times 2

In 2021, I published a little Issuu history of a daguerreotype of 16-year-old Emily Dickinson. As of 2023, that image remains the sole fully authenticated photograph of the poet, and my book included an attempt at using artificial intelligence to restore its contrast and detail. The original and the restoration can be found in the book at

But in 2023 I upgraded my computer and its software, and rerunning the restoration now brings back so much more history that separate pages can be seen once again in the book on the photographer’s table. If I still had the Microsoft Word text of my own 2021 book, I’d replace the old image there with the new one and hit Republish. The Word text is long deleted, though, and to change that one page now I’d have to retype the whole book and then hassle with Issuu.

But see the new restoration by itself: a 2023 electronic state of the poet Emily Dickinson in 1847. At the least, more of the fabric in her dress is visible to you now than it was to me in 2021.
But see too: as she explained in advance to Thomas Wentworth Higginson (1862; JL268), the only true way to see Emily Dickinson is wordwise: not as an illustration but with the mind’s eye.

Dickinson: in mitigation

What Randall Jarrell said about Robert Frost is also true of Emily Dickinson: her best poems are almost as beloved as her worst. But here’s some scholarship in mitigation.

First the poem: Fr982, as it usually is formatted online.

If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.

Second, historical evidence for the genteel pronunciation of “again.” In the sequence beginning at about minute 18:30 of

you’ll hear it: “eggayne.”

Third and decisively, artificial intelligence has motored up at last with aid for the fainting robin. Perhaps the stretcher bearer was Ernest Hemingway.


Observation at coarse focus: metaphor’s long operating distance

The metaphor: by Emily Dickinson, Fr741.

Its point of view is behind thick, scream-deadening glass, and the glass is nineteenth-century windowpane, wavy and bubbly. If it were optical glass, you would see, instead,

or, with a click of a rotating turret

Then full stop. Observe the yellow eye afterward, too, if you choose, but your only humbly honest recourse is probably not to dare to think about it.