“Some say the world will end in fire,” wrote the poet Robert Frost – and for much of 2021, Associated Press photographers captured scenes of a world ablaze, amid rumblings of ruin.
Firefighters battle the Sugar Fire, part of the Beckwourth Complex Fire, in Doyle, Calif., July 9, 2021.
In New Delhi, a man sprints amid the funeral pyres of COVID-19 victims – too many fires, too much heat, too many victims. On a beach near the village of Limni, Greece, the horizon is lit by the flames of wildfires raging across the eastern Mediterranean.
A man watches as a wildfire approaches Kochyli beach near the village of Limni, Greece, about 160 kilometers (100 miles) north of Athens, Aug. 6, 2021.
There is fury: the astonishing moment when police aimed their guns at rioters trying to break into the House Chamber at the United States Capitol; Mexican demonstrators against gender violence, hurling themselves at barricades; an Ethiopian woman’s wrath as she fights for every split pea in starving, war-torn Tigray.
Demonstrators attack a barricade protecting Mexico City's National Palace during a march to commemorate International Women's Day and protest against gender violence, Mexico, March 8, 2021.
And there are the sorrowful embers of violence. Stoic Palestinians carry the body of a child who died in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza, while a continent away, mourners bear the body of a man killed while protesting the coup in Myanmar. And in Haiti, the wife of slain President Jovenel Moise, Martine, leaves a memorial gathering in black widow’s weeds and mask.
Tin Tin Win, center, weeps over the body of her son, Tin Htut Hein, at his funeral in Yangon, Myanmar, Feb. 24, 2021. Tin Htut Hein was shot four days earlier while acting as a volunteer guard for a neighborhood watch group that was set up over fears that authorities were using criminals released from prison to spread fear and commit violence.
There was more to 2021, of course. There was fun: Lady Gaga wore one of the world’s largest dresses to Joe Biden’s inauguration.
President-elect Joe Biden (L) and Vice President Mike Pence (R) watch as Lady Gaga steps off the stage after performing the national anthem during the 59th Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Jan. 20, 2021.
There were moments of hope. Even as millions more died of COVID-19, billions were vaccinated. Health care worker Nazir Ahmed ventured to remote Kashmiri meadows to inoculate shepherds, some of them vaccine resistant. He stands in his protective gear on a hillock, like an emissary from COVID-19 times who somehow found himself in a South Asian remake of “The Sound of Music.”
There are other images that recall the movies, but askew.
Those men on horseback in 10-gallon hats are not the cowboys of classic Westerns; they’re border agents, corralling Haitian migrants as they try to cross the Rio Grande into the United States.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection mounted officers attempt to contain migrants, mostly from Haiti, as they cross the Rio Grande from Ciudad Acuña, Mexico, into Del Rio, Texas, on Sept. 19, 2021.
And the man and woman caught in a passionate embrace in Barcelona, Spain, are not characters in a romantic comedy; behind them, a riot rages over the imprisonment of a rapper convicted of insulting the Spanish monarchy. And the streets are on fire.
A couple kisses in front of a barricade set on fire by demonstrators during clashes with police following a protest condemning the imprisonment of rap singer Pablo Hasél in Barcelona, Spain, Feb. 18, 2021. Hasél was convicted of insulting the Spanish monarchy and praising terrorist violence.