Laurence (David) Lerner (born 12 December 1925) is a South African born British literary critic and poet and novelist. He was born in Cape Town to parents of Lithuanian-Jewish ancestry, and educated at the University of Cape Town and Pembroke College, Cambridge.
He was lecturer in English, at the University College of the Gold Coast, 1949–53, tutor then lecturer in English, Queen's University, Belfast, 1953–62, lecturer then reader then professor of English, University of Sussex 1962-84, and professor of English, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee, 1985-95. He won the 1991 Harvie Branscomb Distinguished Professor Award.
- "The History of a Poem", The Dark Horse", Summer 1997
- You Can't Say That! English Usage Today. Cambridge University Press. 2010. ISBN 978-0-521-14097-3.
- Reading Women's Poetry. Sussex Academic Press. 2009. ISBN 978-1-84519-337-9.
- Angels and absences: child deaths in the nineteenth century, Vanderbilt University Press, 1997, ISBN 978-0-8265-1287-1
- The Victorians, Methuen, 1978, ISBN 978-0-416-56210-1
- An introduction to English poetry: fifteen poems discussed by Laurence Lerner, Edward Arnold, 1975, ISBN 978-0-7131-5789-5
- A.R.T.H.U.R.: the life and opinions of a digital computer, Volume 1974. University of Massachusetts Press. 1975. ISBN 978-0-87023-181-0.
- Exploring Stereotyped Images in Victorian and Twentieth-Century Literature and Society. Edwin Mellen Press. 1993. ISBN 978-0-77349-325-4.
Here is a poem by Laurence Lerner (not infringing copyright, since submitted by the author, who holds the copyright!)
All that long time there was the place I was,
All that long same, the dark and constant same.
I came to being and it bit my eyes.
I want to be a rider like my father.
A soldier was my father was a horseman.
I want to be a rider and I want
Out of that same he carried me upstairs,
Out of that dark and then I stood to lean;
The soft ground stood and hit me where I fell.
When it was hunger time they put soft life
Into my mouth. It moved. The warm flesh tore
Under my teeth. This could be me I'm eating.
I spat and called: I loved that time, those horses,
The brittle bread, the water, the soft dark,
The stiff floor always there, the always steady
Till I was carried to the bumpy world:
The air threw needles at my eyes. I fell.
Where were my walls, my horse to push, and where -
I want my floor my bread my dark my always -
I want the same the only same the only -
I want to be a rider like my father
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