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.

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Entry from April 18, 2014
“Who does not love wine, women, and song remains a fool his whole life long”

"Who does not love wine, women, and song remains a fool his whole life long” is an old saying. The original German (cited in print since at least 1775) is:

“Wer nicht liebt Wein, Weib und Gesang
Der bleibt ein Narr sein Lebenlang.”


The line is frequently credited to German monk Martin Luther (1483-1546), but the saying’s first appearance over 200 years after his death makes this doubtful. German poet Johann Heinrich Voss (1751-1826) is sometimes credited, but it’s doubtful that he popularized this by 1775 and Martin Luther was being credited during Voss’s lifetime.

“Who does not love wine, women, and music, remains a fool all his life” was cited in English in 1820. “Who loves not wine, woman and song, He is a fool his whole life long” was cited in print in 1855.


Wikipedia: Wein, Weib und Gesang
„Wein, Weib und Gesang“ ist ein Motto, das als rhetorische Figur ein Hendiatris verwendet, um einen bestimmten Lebensstil zu beschreiben.

Verwendung
Martin Luther wird der Vers „Wer nicht liebt Wein, Weib, Gesang, der bleibt ein Narr sein Leben lang“ zugeschrieben, allerdings ist er nicht in seinen überlieferten Schriften enthalten. Er wird erst 1775 zum ersten Mal nachweislich erwähnt und in der Folgezeit dann häufig Luther zugeschrieben. Einige Autoren vermuten jedoch, dass er nicht auf Luther zurückgeht, sondern stattdessen Johann Heinrich Voss (1751–1826) zuzuschreiben ist.

OCLC WorldCat record
Martin Luther’s Denkspruch “Wer nicht liebt Wein, Weib und Gesang etc.” : Poesie von Müchler ; für eine Singstimme und Chor, mit Begleitung des Piano-Forté
Author: Johann A André
Publisher: Offenbach a.M. : André [1817]
Edition/Format: Book : German

Google Books
Travels in the North of Germany
Volume 2

By Thomas Hodgskin
Edinburgh: Printed for Archibald Constable and Co.
1820
Pg. 415:
Chor:
Wer nicht liebt Wein, Weib und Gesang
Der bleibt ein Narr sein Lebenlang,
Und Narren sind wir nicht.
“Then let us drink, and sing what Martin Luther said — Who does not love wine, women, and music, remains a fool all his life; and we are not fools.”

Google Books
Morgenblatt für gebildete Stände
Volume 12; Volume 16
1822
Pg. 184:
Motto: Wer nicht liebt, Wein, Weib und Gesang, Der bleibt ein Narr sein Lebelang.

25 December 1855, Springfield (MA) Daily Republican, “The Day and its Suggestions” (From the Editor’s Easy Chair of Harper’s Magazine), pg. 2, col. 4:
... the Reverend Doctor Cotton Mather shall sing as the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther sang:

“Who loves not wine, woman and song,
He is a fool his whole life long.”

Google Books
The Modern Scottish Minstrel;
or, The Songs of Scotland of the Past Half Century

Volume III
Edited by Charles Rogers
Edinburgh: Aams & Charles Black
1856
Pg. XVII:
Who would have expected the German Reformer to be the author of the couplet —

“He who loves not women, wine, and song,
Will be a fool his whole life long.”

And yet he was.

12 October 1860, The California Farmer, pg. 53, col. 1:
Over the door is an inscription as follows:

“Who loves not woman, wine and song,
Remains a fool his whole life long!”
(A saloon in Stockton, California.—ed.)

15 December 1860, Springfield (MA) Daily Republican, pg. 2, col. 3:
A sensible fellow was Martin Luther, who didn’t esteem it necessary to eschew love and music, cakes and ale, because fools abuse them. here is a couplet in German which contains the Great Reformer’s creed touching those matters :--

“Wer nicht lieb wein, weib und Gesang,
Der bleibt ein Narr sein Leben lang.”

Which may be thus rendered in English :--

Who loves not women, wine and song,
A fool is he his whole life long.

Google Books
The Adventures of Philip on his Way through the World
By William Makepeace Thackeray
New York, NY: Harper & Brothers
1862
Pg. 46:
As Doctor Luther sang,
Who loves not wine, woman, and song,
He is a fool his whole life long.

Bartleby.com
John Bartlett (1820–1905).  Familiar Quotations, 10th ed.  1919.
NUMBER: 9706
AUTHOR: Miscellaneous Translations
QUOTATION: Who does not love wine, women, and song
Remains a fool his whole life long. 1
Note 1.
Attributed to Luther, but more probably a saying of J. H. Voss (1751–1826), according to Redlich, “Die poetischen Beiträge zum Waudsbecker Bothen,” Hamburg, 1871, p. 67.—King: Classical and Foreign Quotations (1887).

OCLC WorldCat record
“Wein, Weib und Gesang” : zum angeblichen Luther-Spruch in Kunst, Musik, Literatur, Medien und Karikaturen
Author: Wolfgang Mieder
Publisher: Wien : Edition Praesens, 2004.
Series: Kulturelle Motivstudien, 4.
Edition/Format: Book : German

Google Books
“Proverbs Speak Louder Than Words”:
Folk Wisdom in Art, Culture, Folklore, History, Literature and Mass Media

By Wolfgang Mieder
New York, NY: Peter Lang
2008
Pg. 206:
A famous example is the false claim that Martin Luther originated the proverb “Wer nicht liebt Wein, Weib und Gesang, der bleibt ein Narr sein Leben lang” (Who does not love wine, woman, and song, remains a fool his whole life long). In Luther’s case, the folk’s image of Luther as a vivacious person who was fond of women and drink quite naturally led to the attribution of the epicurean proverb to the energetic reformer, even though its earliest recorded reference dates only from 1775.

Google Books
The Quotable Drunkard:
Words of Wit, Wisdom, and Philosophy From the Bottom of the Glass

By Steven Kates
Avon, MA; Adams Media
2011
Pg. 41:
“Who does not love wine, women, and song remains a fool his whole life long.” —ANONYMOUS

The Huffington Post
8 Things Even New Yorkers Don’t Know About New York City
by Todd Van Luling
Posted: 04/17/2014 8:13 am EDT Updated: 04/17/2014 10:59 am EDT
(...)
4. The Brooklyn Bridge originally contained a vast wine and champagne cellar.
As a way to offset the enormous cost of construction of the Brooklyn Bridge, the city of New York rented huge underground vaults located in the anchorages of the Manhattan end of the bridge to various wine sellers. These areas, which opened in 1876, apparently maintain a consistent temperature of around 60 degrees, regardless of the weather, making them ideal spaces for wine storage.

This area under Manhattan was nicknamed the “Blue Grotto,” as a niche near the entrance featured a shrine to the Virgin Mary. New York Magazine visited one of the now-closed cellars (beneath William St. and Park Row) in 1978 and found a fading inscription on the wall that read, “Who loveth not wine, women and song, he remaineth a fool his whole life long.”

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • Friday, April 18, 2014 • Permalink