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Winston Churchill poem to be auctioned

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Media captionFrancesca Spikernell, a specialist at Bonham's said it was ''incredibly rare'' to have a manuscript like this on the market

The only poem known to have been written by Winston Churchill as an adult is expected to fetch up to £15,000 when it is auctioned at Bonhams in London later.

The 40-line work, Our Modern Watchwords, is thought to have been written in 1899 or 1900 when he served abroad in the army, in his mid-20s.

It has been described as "heavy-footed" by ex-poet laureate Andrew Motion.

As a boy, the former British PM won a poetry prize at Harrow School.

The poem, written on Army notepaper in blue crayon, consists of four 10-line stanzas, each ending with the name of a distant outpost of the British empire.

These include "Wai-hai-wai" - a city in eastern China, now known as Weihai - and Nigerian city Sokoto.

The poem, which was discovered by retired manuscript dealer Roy Davids, begins with the lines: "The shadow falls along the shore, the search lights twinkle on the sea, the silence of a mighty fleet, portends the tumult yet to be".

Andrew Motion said the "reliable, heavy-footed rhythm" and "stirring, old-fashioned sentiments" were expected.

But he said "the shadow of Auden passes over the page and makes everything briefly more surprising" in Sir Winston's lines: "The tables of the evening meal, are spread amid the great machines."

Bonhams said the line, "breathes there the man", was taken from a work by Scottish poet Walter Scott.

Sir Winston joined the 4th Hussars in 1895 when he went to Cuba before transferring to India, in 1896.

He served in the Boer War from 1899 to 1900.

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