When I was a child, we owned an orange set of Childcraft books by World Book. ( I still have the books from the set that aren’t dated.)  Several of the books had poems and this was one of my favorites.  For some reason, while working around the house today, unpacking, going through mail and other post-vacation activities, this poem insinuated itself into my head and wouldn’t go away.  You might enjoy it and if you have children or grandchildren, it’s highly likely they’ll love its cadences and story.  So I present for your enjoyment…

A Ballad Of China
Laura E. Richards

Her Name was Dilliki Dolliki Dinah;
Niece she was to the Empress of China;
Fair she was as a morning in May,
When Hy Kokolorum stole her away.

Hy was a wizard, I’d have you know;
Wicked as weasels and black as a crow;
Lived in castle a-top a hill;
Had a panther whose name was Bill;

Used to ride him around and around,
Creeping and peeping close to the ground;
Working mischief wherever he could;
Nothing about him in any way good!

Saw the maiden one midsummer morn,
(sweetest creature that ever was born!),
Creeped and peeped in his wizardly way,
Catched her and snatched her and stole her away!

All through China arose a cry:
“Some one has stolen out Dilliki Di!”
People gathered in every forum,
Crying, “It must be Hy Kokolorum!”

All the Barons in China land,
Ling the lofty and Bing the Bland,
Kong the Kingly and Bond the brave,
Vowed a vow to find and save

Darling Dilliki Dolliki Dinah
(niece you know to the empress of China;
Fair you know as a morning in May),
Whom Hy Kokolorum had stolen away.

Now in a kingly, ringly row,
Round and about the hill they go,
Ling the lofty, Bing the bland,
Kong and Bong, and there they stand,

Weaving a weird and spinning a spell,
All with intent to quash and quell
Hy Kokolorum, worker of woe,
Wicked as weasels and black as a crow.

Dilliki Dinah was weeping her fill,
When stepped up softly the panther Bill;
Whispered,” If you will give me a kiss,
I’ll turn your sorrow into bubbling bliss!”

She, to animals always kind,
Said,” No! Really? Well, I don’t mind!”
Dropped a kiss on his nose so pink,
And goodness gracious! what do you think?

He turned into a beautiful Golden King,
Crown and scepter and everything!
Ran the old wizard through and through,
Saying, ” Now there is an end of you!”

Caught the maiden up in his arms,
Broke through the net of spells and charms,
Cried to the barons Bold and Brave,
“I’ve had the honor to find and save

Darling Dilliki Dolliki Dinah
Niece (I learn) to the Empress of China,
Fair (I swear) as a morning in May
And she is my queen to this very day!”

  1. NOW that is a poem LOL! I remember seeing those books on grams bookshelves next to the fireplace along with the set of Encyclopedia Brittanica’s, thanks Bill for the memory.

  2. I love the bouncy rhythm and the overall silliness! (And the way it bounces along is probably important – makes it clear to the kids that this isn’t really a scary story and everything will turn out okay 🙂 )

  3. Yeah, gotta admit, got into the story and loved the cadence. Actually, read it out loud to myself.

  4. […] already introduced you to Laura E. Richards, author of “Ballad of China”, https://sustainabilitea.wordpress.com/2012/11/27/a-ballad-of-china/.  Here’s another of her poems, which I also read in one of our orange Childcraft books.  In […]

  5. Lynn Herklotz says:

    I have been reciting that poem for more than fifty years. I too read it in child craft. Wish I could find a book that had the poem in it..

  6. […] year, I shared one of my best-loved poems from those volumes, “A Ballad of China.”  Here’s another of my favorites, Alfred Noyes’ “The Highwayman.”  […]

  7. Marsha says:

    My sons grew up on this poem from my old Childcraft poetry book. Now my grandchildren are being introduced to it. My 2-year-old grandson was going around the other day inserting the names Dilliki Dinah and Hy Kokolorum into his conversations.

    • Marsha, I read this to our girls from the orange Childcraft that I had when I was little. I got rid of some of the volumes (science and other dated things), but kept the ones with poems, children’s poems, children’s stories, etc. Hopefully only day, one of our daughters will be reading this poem to her children.


  8. […] in-Just Fog The Highwayman When the Frost is on the Punkin A Ballad of China […]

  9. Susie says:

    I also had the orange childcraft books; the one with the Highwayman was my favorite. I will always have the images of those poems and stories forever in my mind. I bought each of my grandchildren a set but don’t think anyone is getting read to like I was. I tried to tell them what memories were etchec on my three year old mind but seems they’re too busy. Wish they could have the same great memories I had !

    • We read to our girls when they were younger, Susie, and my husband still read to them sometimes even when they were older. I feel so sorry for anyone who isn’t read to as a child. I can’t imagine life without books, lots of books, and, as you say, memories. When I see some of the books out for young adults, I want to throw many of the them away. Themes like vampires, hot boys or hot girls, etc. make me crazy!


  10. Fran Ventimiglio says:

    When I was 4 or 5 years old, my parents bought a set of Childcraft encyclopedias. I carried the volume with this poem as well as my other favorite poems with me everywhere. I absolutely loved them. They are timeless. I’m glad there are others that remember them.

  11. Lynn says:

    Grew up on the “orange Childcraft” books from the 1950’s and still have the volumes with the nonsense poetry. Read them to my children and will be reading them to my grandchildren too. We memorized many of these poems, the Ballsd of China being one of our favorites. My dad even named our Golden Retriever after Darling Dilika Dinah!

  12. Sam Taylor, Jr. says:

    I have the same childcraft set. Love it, and love this poem.

  13. Randall Bates says:

    I love this poem! My Dad would read it to us kids when were little. Good old Child Craft. Wonderful memories. Now reading it to my grand children.

    • It makes me happy to read this , Randall. 🙂 We won’t have our first grandchild for another few months, but I’ll be reading this poem to him at some point. Just out of curiosity, how did you find my post? However you did, thanks for not only visiting and enjoying it, but commenting as well.


      • Robert M doan says:

        Robert M doan, I love the ballad of China I still remember every word and I am 90 years old today. My mother read out of the Child craft books and I still remember so many poems. Back then The stories always had a purpose of good thank you very much

      • Robert, it makes me happy to read this comment. The Childcraft books were wonderful and I still have all the ones with poems and stories. I’ll be reading them to our grandson when he gets a bit older (he’s just over month old now.) Thanks for taking time to comment. It made my day!


  14. Zel Dee says: