From the very first glance at the title, we could see that this is a very personal poem from the usage of first person pronouns, ‘I’ and ‘me’, in the title. However, it is not a blatant display of narcissism and egotism. Rather, it is more like a self reflection or meditation on the nature of memory as in the word ”Remember”. The tone is one of wistfulness at the temporality of memory and its pace is sad and slow.
An insufficiency is mentioned from the very first line; there is something that is “not enough”. Enough of abundance and perfection, now there is famine and incompleteness. “Of what?” Of ‘faces’, emphasized by a caesura. “Faces” are symbols of personal uniqueness and a lack of faces might signify a lack of individuality and also a suffocating conformity. There is the suggestion of individuality by the usage of “Your own” and “you” but it is always superseded by that “someone else”. That “someone else” is representative of normality and the sea of strangers that you see on the reflection of the train doors and ‘forget(ting) yourself’ represents a losing of one’s identity.
Conformity and unique also manifest itself in the second stanza, not as a competing force, but in a beautiful alliance. In the romantic and dreamy world of dreams, we are ‘different’ . In a superb analogy, Duffy paved the way for conformity and individuality to co exist in “Private cells inside a common skull”.Yet, one ( the unique one) also has to conform, having the other look and memory and thus individuality is suppressed.
The story continues in the finally stanza where sometimes, out of the mind-numbing conformity, the crowd surrenders one that ‘you’ could brand as one own by naming it and thus asserting a sense of individuality to it. Yet, mostly, it is a case of conformity scoring the final victory, as one ( your lover) could not recognize you, which accounts for the melancholy that perfused the poem, of one lost amidst the conformity of a sea of strangers and not having a single soul in which you could call your own. A type of loneliness in a sense.