As a painter, who portrays the pallorand bleakness of a dead body, adorninga bloodless face with the hues of death,also adds there horrid beasts and frighteningmonsters, and verisimilar ones at that:though, as true-to-life, he may frighten you,the mere illusion of those painted featuresand his craftsmanship can delight you;so, by means of these colors and lightsof poetical style, together with theseshadows of poetry, I create dreadfulshapes, and I thus try my best to pleasethe most sublime minds, and from deep horrordraw such delight that satisfies the more wise.
A footnote engages these ideas:
Among the “manifestos” we have already come across, this one is the most radically Tassean. Cf. Gerusalemme Liberata 1, stanza 3, but capsizing it: there, beautiful descriptions aimed at attracting readers and making them “drink” (that’s the verb Tasso uses) the more serious contents; here, a frightening surface calls the readers to a paradoxical discovery of Light and Beauty at a deeper level—in poetry as well as in life. Melville assumes a like posture in Moby-Dick, ch, 1: “Not ignoring what is good, I am quick to perceive a horror, and could still be social with it—would they let me—since it is but well to be on friendly terms with all the inmates of the place one lodges in.”