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Remembering the 1 million lives lost to COVID-19

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Roughly a million people have died in the United States from COVID-19 since the pandemic began in March of 2020. In the first weeks, deaths were reported in the news, almost name by name. Now new vaccines and treatments have been developed to protect millions. The loss of lives is more likely to be phrased with statistics, as when the Centers for Disease Control COVID Data Tracker says that 323 people on average still die in the United States each week from the coronavirus. Those names may not be so often publicized, but those lives are inscribed in history and our hearts. It made us think of Edna St. Vincent Millay's poem, "Dirge Without Music."

(Reading) I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts in the hard ground. So it is, and so it will be, for so it has been, time out of mind - into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely. Crowned with lilies and with laurel they go, but I am not resigned. Lovers and thinkers, into the earth with you. Be one with the dull, the indiscriminate dust. A fragment of what you felt, of what you knew, a formula, a phrase remains - but the best is lost. The answers quick and keen, the honest look, the laughter, the love - they are gone. They have gone to feed the roses. Elegant and curled is the blossom. Fragrant is the blossom. I know. But I do not approve. More precious was the light in your eyes than all the roses in the world. Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind - quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave. I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.