This poem is a shocking departure from the usual sentiments expressed in the church, but it ends with something familiar and powerful. As the title implies, poem seems to express the feelings that accompany a person being excommunicated from the church. The language and imagery are strong and vivd. The poems starts and speaks of God as "a plague in my blood clotting life giving streams." Who would think of God as a plague? This put me in the shoes of someone experiencing extreme spiritual pain. The speaker doesn't deny the existence of God at all, but feels weakened by him, or maybe simply weakened by the burden of whatever he/she has done.
The speaker feels like an "abortion of a wilderness church" and "broken by hunger." There is so much imagery of solitude and hopelessness that contributes to the overall theme of being stuck in a whirlwind of doubt and guilt. The speaker refers to the savior as having only said "be bore the burden of all," implying his doubt about the validity of the atonement. Amid this doubt, he says, "no hope remains save slashed wrists." But, after spending almost the entire poem painting this hopeless picture, the poem concludes with the words from a hymn:
O Savior, stay this night with me; Behold, 'tis eventide.
That line (and the entire hymn) has always brought real comfort to me when I've felt burdens in my life, but this poem created an even more profound meaning to that line by using it to remedy such exquisite hopelessness, sin, doubt, and guilt. To be excommunicated would be an enormously difficult trial, but this poem depicts how far-reaching the Atonement truly is. It helps me to have more confidence that no matter what mistakes I make or how many doubts I may have, I will still be able to find solace if I embrace the Savior.