I FIRST became aware of George Bruce during the 1939-46 war, when his poems began appearing in ''little magazines''. My wife, Joyce, knew him personally before I met him, because he came to St Andrews University, where she was a student to lecture to the literary society there in the latter years of

the war.

I was then preparing for the publisher William McLellan the first Poetry Scotland anthology, in which George was, of course, represented, and his first collection, Sea Talk (1944), became one of the series of individual volumes which McLellan issued in conjunction with the Poetry Scotland anthologies.

Here, for the first time, was a poet who captured the ''feel'' of the north-east of Scotland as no poet before him had done. Sea Talk deals largely with Bruce's imagined return to the fishing community of Fraserburgh, into which he was born, and the landscape of the north-east, a

quality epitomised in the much-anthologised poem, Kinaird Head.

Bruce learned his spare and economical technique from Pound in his ''Mauberley''

period, and to some extent from TS Eliot, particularly in the matter of cadence.

Yet the tone and texture of the Scottish use Bruce makes of their techniques is entirely individual, relating to the durable qualities of rock, sea, and element among which he grew up.

His family had been connected with the fishing trade

in Aberdeen.

After graduating from Aberdeen University, Bruce taught in Dundee, but immediately after the war became the BBC's Aberdeen producer.

He then moved to Edinburgh to become the producer of the BBC's arts programmes.

For 21 years we edited together the radio programme, Scottish Arts and Letters, which I introduced and which went out monthly, except in the summer. At Edinburgh, George Bruce also took over from Robin Richardson the immensely successful Arts Review programme, which carried discussion on the main artistic events in Scotland at a level that since its demise has not been equalled.

Although he was fundamentally a radio man, George also produced a number of television programmes, mostly on the arts.

Over the years he and I travelled the length and breadth of Scotland working together on programmes.

But it was as a poet that he will best be remembered - a poet of place against which ''the hero'' is the ordinary man going about his business on sea or land. His Collected Poems (1970) reveals a more cosmopolitan range of subject-matter than his individual volumes might suggest.

Nothing, however, surpasses A Gateway to the Sea, a stately elegy upon the changelessness of change. The ''gateway'' leads in a physical sense to ruined St Andrew's Cathedral, which has accommodated so much of human splendour and gossip:

...Caesar's politics

And he who was drunk last


Kings, diamants, snuff

boxes, warships.

Also the less rothy garments

of worthy men...

The European sun knew

those streets

''O Jesu parvule; Christus

victus, Christus victor,''

The bells singing from their

towers, the waters

Whispering to the waters,

the air tolling

In the air - the faith, the


All this was long ago. The


Are out, the town is sunk in


A warm-hearted, modest man, George Bruce did not achieve his full recognition during the earlier years of the Scottish Renaissance. But to his friends and the lovers of his poetry, it was particularly gratifying that in the last years of his life not only was he honoured academically, but his portrait by David Donaldson was hung

in the Scottish National

Portrait Gallery.

A poem, Now, in his later collection Today Tomorrow perhaps sums up his achievement:

Now is the time for


No angels in the sky.

The blue sings itself.

Daffodils shout their


Seas sing their terrible


The earth-worm snooves in

the dark.

Above, new grass trembles.

It is the throb of life.

''The throb of life'' is a good summation of George Bruce's own poetry.

George Bruce, poet; born March 10, 1909, died July 25, 2002.