Of A Child That Had Fever by Christopher Morley

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"The Burnt Child Craves The Flame"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Comparing love, Eros, to the sickness of a fevered child, the poet draws several similarities that illuminate to some extent the nature and effect of love. Love "is a hot distemper/ That hath no feverfew," says the poet as he begins his comparison. Love, the same as a fever, subdues the will, leaving one submissive and powerless. "Love, like a child in sickness,/ Brilliant, languid, still,/ In fiery weakness lying,/ Accepts, and hath no will." Furthermore, both love and fever are similar in their effect upon the senses, robbing one of his mental faculties and of the power of concentration. In the concluding verse the comparison switches from that between love and fever to an implied comparison between love and a flame. Still involved is the burning, consuming aspect of each. The effect vivified by this comparison is the hypnotic obsession caused by love and by the flame as the "victim" is lured irresistibly to his own injury. Especially because of this characteristic the poet warns the reader to respect Eros:

I bid you, mock not Eros:
He knows not doubt nor shame,
And, unaware of proverbs,
The burnt child craves the flame.