A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

Recent entries:
“Never go to a doctor whose office plants have died” (10/20)
Entry forthcoming—B.P. (10/20)
“Work for a cause, not for applause” (10/20)
Gaphattan (Gap + Manhattan) (10/20)
“Welcome to New York. Duck, Mother Fucker!” (10/20)
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Entry from March 29, 2009
“A man takes a drink…then the drink takes the man”

"First the man takes a drink. Then the drink takes a drink. Then the drink takes the man.” This Japanese proverb warned of the dangers of drinking too muck sake (rice wine). In 1886, the saying was made into a poem (with “Japan” rhyming with man") by Edward Rowland Sill (1841-1887). The saying has been much anthologized and is still reprinted.


Wikipedia: Edward Rowland Sill
Edward Rowland Sill (April 29, 1841 – February 27, 1887), American poet and educator, was born in Windsor, Connecticut.

25 May 1886, Chicago (IL) Daily Tribune, pg. 4: 
“At the punch bowl’s brink,
Let the thirsty think,
What they say in Japan:
First the man takes a drink,
Then the drink takes a drink,
Then the drink takes the man.”
EDWARD R. SILL

Google Books
Transactions of the National Eclectic Medical Association of the United States of America,
For the Years 1886-1887

Vol. XIV
Orange, NJ: Chronicle Book and Job Printing Office
1887
Pg. 330:
The following “adage from the Orient:”
At the punch-bowl’s brink,
Let the thirsty think,

and what they say in Japan:
“First the man takes a drink,
Then the drink takes a drink,
Then the drink takes the man.”


Google Books
Slang and Its Analogues, Past and Present
Compiled and Edited by John Stephen Farmer and William Ernest Henley
Vol. I
London: Printed for subscribers only
1890
Pg. 164:
1888. Atlanta Constitution, May 4. The Japanese say: “A man takes a drink; then the drink takes a drink, and next the drink takes the man.” Evidently the Japanese “have BEEN THERE.”

Google Books
The Gatling Gun
By Rev. Isaiah Villars
Cincinnati, OH: Printed for the Author by Cranston & Stowe
1891
Pg. 38:
“At the punch bowl’s brink,
Let the thirsty think,
What they say in Japan:
First the man takes a drink,
Then the drink takes a drink,
Then the drink takes the man.”

Google Books
Current Americanisms
By T. Baron Russell
London: Saxon & Co.
1897
Pg. 33:
“The Japanese say, ‘A man takes a drink; then the drink takes a drink; and next the drink takes the man.’ Evidently the Japanese have been there.”—Puck, New York, 1891.

Google Books
Hermoine and Other Poems
By Edward Rowland Sill
Boston, MA: Houghton, Lifflin and Company
1899
Pg. 100:
AN ADAGE FROM THE ORIENT
AT the punch-bowl’s brink,
Let the thirsty think
What they say in Japan:

“First the man takes a drink,
Then the drink takes a drink,
Then the drink takes the man!”

13 November 1901, Los Angeles (CA) Times, “Bad Poetry in a Good Cause” by C. M. Stevans, pg. 4:
At the punch-bowl’s brink, Let the thirsty think, What the people say in Japan. “First, the man takes a drink Next, the drink takes a drink. Then the drink takes the man.”

12 July 1905, Philadelphia (PA) Inquirer, pg. 8:
The Japanese have a proverb to the effect that a man takes a drink, then the drink takes a drink, and then the drink takes the man.

27 October 1907, Duluth (MN) News-Tribune, section 2, pg. 8:
Here is a Japanese proverb: “A man takes a drink, then the drink takes a drink and the next drink takes the man.”

Google Books
Japanese Proverbs and Sayings
By Daniel Crump Buchanan
Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press
1965
Pg. 80:
Ippai wa hito sake wo nomi, hihai wa sake sake wo nomi, sambai wa sake hito wo nomu: “The first cup, the man drinks wine; the second cup, wine drinks wine; the third cup, wine drinks up the man.” English parallel: Wine is a turncoat; first a friend, then an enemy.

Google Books
The Little Giant Encyclopedia of Proverbs
By David Macfarlane
Published by Sterling Publishing Company, Inc.
2001
Pg. 175:
First the man takes a drink, then the drink takes a drink, then the drink takes the man.
Ippai wa hito sake a nomi, ni-hai wa sake sake o nomi, sam-bai wa sake hito o nomu.
-- Japanese

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • (1) Comments • Sunday, March 29, 2009 • Permalink


This is the saying I was trying to remember.

Posted by Shirley Shore  on  11/05  at  10:04 AM

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