But no sooner were my eyes open, but I saw my Poll sitting on top of the hedge; and immediately knew that it was he that spoke to me; for just in such bemoaning language I had used to talk to him, and teach him; and he learned it so perfectly that he would sit upon my finger and lay his bill close to my face, and cry, “Poor Robin Crusoe! Where are you? Where have you been? How come you here?” and such things as I had taught him.
When Crusoe returns from his nearly fatal canoe trip in Chapter XVI to find his parrot calling his name, the scene expresses the pathos of having only a bird to welcome him home. Crusoe domesticates the bird in an attempt to provide himself with a substitute family member, as we learn later when he refers to his pets in Chapter XVII as his “family.” Poll’s friendly address to his master foreshadows Friday’s role as conversation partner in Crusoe’s life. Crusoe’s solitude may not be as satisfying as he lets on. Moreover, Poll’s words show a self-pitying side of Crusoe that he never reveals in his narration. Teaching the bird to call him “poor” in a “bemoaning” tone shows that he may feel more like complaining than he admits in his story and that his Christian patience might be wearing thin. Poll’s greeting also has a spiritual significance: it comes right after Crusoe’s near-death experience in the canoe, and it seems to come from a disembodied speaker, since Crusoe imagines a person must be addressing him. It seems like a mystical moment until the words are revealed not to be God’s, but Crusoe’s own words repeated by a bird. Cut off from human communication, Crusoe seems cut off from divine communication too—he can only speak to himself.