Magic of Rhymes

If someone asks you what are the important things which we need to live on earth, what will you answer? Some might say oxygen or water. Some might say food, shelter and clothing. One might go one step further and will say – ‘One love is all we need’. But is that all we need? I think we live with lot many other things and one essential thing among them is words. We actually live and breathe through words. It’s not just the communication or learning part, there’s more to it. We put in our emotions and thoughts into words and hence words can be as soothing as cool breeze or as hard as spear. They certainly have power to make or break things for you.

With whole writing practice, I have started to read a lot. But while reading plain articles in newspapers or on internet, there’s a thing that I miss. It’s rhythm. By rhythm, I don’t mean music. Words can be woven in particular fashion so that it creates rhythm. Poems are best examples of that. Poem is beautiful way of expressing thoughts with a style. It takes language to upper level. Rhythm, repetitive pattern and most importantly rhymes create a pleasing musical experience though poem.

Our connection with poems is started long back, right from our childhood days. Nursery rhymes like ‘Johnny Johnny, yes papa’ and ‘Jack and Jill’ made our childhood unforgettable. Why even after so many years, this rhymes put firm impression on us? Why those rhymes create good old imagery in our minds? Nursery rhymes help to develop language and communication skills of a child. It helps a kid to believe in story that too in very quick time. Just consider Nursery rhyme ‘Baa baa black sheep’ and just think over it for some time. Instead of poem, if there had been a story then it would have been bigger with considerable plot detailing and certainly wouldn’t have left such impression on us as this poem did.  Magic of rhymes did its work.


But does the magic of rhymes limited to children’s minds only? Definitely, it doesn’t. Rhymes are so inseparable from songs that they are consistently used in songs without making “much” sense. Take examples like ‘Tera pyar pyar pyar, Hookah bar….’ or ‘TV pe breaking news hay re mera ghagra, Baghdad se leke Delhi via Agra.’ Even after thinking for long time, I really don’t able to make any relation between Pyar and Hookah Bar, but still song is hit. In second example, Agra lies completely out of the way from Baghdad to Delhi. But just to make it rhyme with Ghagra, it has been used there. These rhymes certainly create musical experience. But is that the only effect they create on mature minds?

Study showed that rhyme has much more astounding effect on our brains than just a musical experience. Statements engulfed with rhymes will make us believe that they are truer than simply said statements. The effect is known as ‘Rhyme as reason effect’. When Matthew McGlone, Ph.D., a psychologist at Lafayette College in Pennsylvania, gave students a list of rhyming aphorisms (“Woes unite foes”) and non-rhyming translations (“Misfortunes unite foes”), he found that they felt the rhyming ones were more accurate. This I would say is pure case of cognitive bias in which statements were considered with aesthetic qualities rather than its pure form. May be that’s the reason that most of the TV commercials uses rhymes.

O. J. Simpson with glove which didn’t fit with his hand.

Here’s a perfect real life incident showing the phenomenon. In O.J. Simpson murder trial, defense lawyer used a rhyming phrase which literally overpowered other arguments and evidences. In his defense, Johnny Cochran presented a rhyme referring to the glove – “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit”. And psychologists thought that rhymes helped him in acquittal of O. J. Simpson. This may still be a theory but worth grabbing our attention because of ‘Rhyme as reason effect’.

Rhymes are pleasing and amusing elements but they can be used to create deceptions. I call it as Magic of Rhymes. Because the way magician creates magic which is nothing but a deception, rhymes are too capable of doing same trick.


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