How Small We Are How Little We Know


Earl Wilson, Jr.

We laugh, we cry,
We live, we die,
and when we're gone, the world goes on.
We love, we hate, we learn too late,
How small we are, how little we know.

We hear, we touch, we talk too much,
of things we have no knowledge of.
We see, we feel,
yet can't conceal,
How small we are, how little we know.

See how the time moves swiftly by,
We don't know how, we don't know why.

We reach so high, and fall so low,
The more we learn, the less we know.

Too soon the time to go will come,
Too late the will to carry on,
And so we leave too much undone,
How small we are how little we know.

© Earl Wilson, Jr. Lyrics appear on The Autodidact Project site courtesy of the composer.

The song was published by Glamerous Music, Inc. and the sole selling agent is: Cimino Publications Incorporated, 436 Maple Ave., Westbury, L.I., N.Y. Consult ASCAP for further information.

Commercial recordings of the song discovered so far are:

Robert Goulet, Both Sides Now, 1969 (Columbia 9763);

Johnny Mann Singers, This Guy's in Love With You, 1967 (Liberty Records LST-7587).

Josef Locke

How Small We Are How Little We Know, 7", UK, 1969 (Decca, 12925)

The World of Josef Locke Today, CD, 2004 (Dutton Vocalion 8106).

Note: This song was featured as the closing theme to the film The Adding Machine (1969), starring Milo O'Shea and Phyllis Diller, based on the play by Elmer Rice. The song's performers are not known to me and the film has never been released on video. (Unofficial video recordings, most likely taped off the air, exist.) It was shown on late-night television several times during the late 1970s and/or early 1980s. This is one of my all-time favorite films, though little-known. Ever since I first saw this film on television I'm been haunted by the closing song, which rounds out the satirical existential theme. For a quarter century at least I hoped to track down the origin of this song, as I never forgot the simple yet plaintive melody and the first stanza, which I have sung from time to time. The Encyclopedia of Fantastic Film and Television and screenonline credit The Adding Machine title theme to Charlie Chaplin, who was not credited in the movie itself. This title theme cannot be the closing song listed above. Other original music is credited to Mike Leander and Lambert Williamson.

Thanks to Uncle Phaedrus and his readers, the song's lyrics and origins were pinpointed, and recently contact with composer Earl Wilson, Jr. was made. My blog report of 24 August 2006 is superseded by this web page.

For more of Earl Wilson, Jr.'s work, see ewilson's blog | Podcastnow Productions.

As of 5 November 2010, one recording of this song can be found on YouTube:

"How Small We Are, How Little We Know" performed by Neil Reid.

Home Page | Site Map | What's New | Coming Attractions | Book News
Bibliography | Mini-Bibliographies | Study Guides | Special Sections
My Writings | Other Authors' Texts | Philosophical Quotations
Blogs | Images & Sounds | External Links

CONTACT Ralph Dumain

Uploaded 16 November 2007
Upated 5 November 2010

Site ©1999-2010 Ralph Dumain