"I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine" as written by and Bob Dylan Dylan Bob....
I dreamed I saw St. Augustine
Alive as you or me
Tearing through these quarters
In the utmost misery
With a blanket underneath his arm
And a coat of solid gold
Searching for the very souls
Whom already have been sold.

"Arise, arise", he cried so loud
With a voice without restraint
"Come out ye gifted kings and queens
And hear my sad complaint
No martyr is among ye now
Whom you can call your own
So go on your way accordingly
But know you're not alone".

I dreamed I saw St. Augustine
Alive with fiery breath
And I dreamed I was amongst the ones
That put him out to death
Oh, I awoke in anger
So alone and terrified
I put my fingers against the glass
And bowed my head and cried.



Lyrics submitted by Philadelphia Eagles

I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine song meanings
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11 Comments

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  • +2
    General CommentA little-heard classic. This song is, unlikely as it sounds, a precursor to Dylan's 'Christian Phase'... he is saying that he is guilty of dismissing the Saint's ideals without giving them a hearing, and therefore culpable of his death. Because of the 'glass' separation of space, time, and language between himself and St. Augustine (& his writings), he cannot become aware of anything beyond this sin of omission. 'Bowed my head and cried' signifies remorse, and there is nothing more he can do.
    elephant_rangeon February 27, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General Commentelephant range is spot on.

    have you ever noticed that there are dylan songs - this included - that are essentially hymns. another example is "i shall be released".
    jokerman1968on January 15, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentJoan Baez used to perform Joe Hill and probably played it for Dylan before 65. Undoubtably he heard it and when he writes something so close to another he usually borrows not only melody and structure but meaning as well. Joe Hill was a labor organizer. Augustine of Hippo did the majority of writing on Original Sin. In fact Augustine said that all babies who are not baptized will burn in hell. Augustine appears in glory and luster (coat of solid gold) providing shelter from the proverbial storm (blanket underneath his arm). Augustine's belief in Original Sin explains the utmost misery and why the souls have already been sold. Augustine's only wish is to save those he meets and alert them to the sin they are unaware of. This of course doesn't work out so well. Who's he put out to death then? Jesus or St. Augustine. Either is the answer, since both would be a sin. The fact is that a sin has been commited. Beautifully stated, a sin that he committed in his sleep yet follows him into his waking hours, such as Original Sin which is not committed in life yet in ancestry. He then puts his head against the glass, seeing through to the other side (death) and cries.
    nigelmustaphaon December 16, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWow. What a beautiful interpretaton. This one and "Dear Landlord", which I also think has a religious meaning, are my favorites from John Wesley Harding (JWH, as in Jaweh, or Jeowah, the name of God)
    cavernon March 12, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti think i read somewhere that dear landlord is about his manager at the time, i'm not sure if those were his words or not, but the god thing works for it too
    RobotHouseon July 17, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthis song has great imagery. my fav of John Wesley
    Homicidal Suicidalon February 25, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI have heard this song is an homage to the famous labor organizer and martyr, Joe Hill, who's famous last words were "Don't mourn, organize". Dylan based the song off a poem written in 1930 called "I Dreamed I Saw Joe Hill Last Night"
    LimitedJeston August 12, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI just looked up the poems and the lyrics are ridiculously close. It begins and ends with "I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night/Alive as you or me"
    Treadstoneon September 07, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Commentactually look at the song and not what you want it to be. just because in the song st. augustine says "there are no martyrs among ye now" does not in any way conclude or even point to dylan believing he was martyred, it simply makes a statement about the message st. augustine declared.

    you've absolutely no grounds for anything in your comment except your own love of dylan's music coupled with unwillingness to reconcile with his apparent guilt towards God.

    this song speaks loudly for itself and evidently you're among those who aren't listening.
    nuumbon January 13, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIn my opinion, the sin Dylan (and all of us) have committed in this song is to condemn Augustines arguments for theology to obsoletion.

    The lines: "Oh, I awoke in anger
    So alone and terrified" represent our liberation from religious thought - but with it our sense of purpose and our comfort blanket, leaving us 'alone and terrified'.

    I say this as a non-theist. I'd always felt this song as a melancholy reflection that most non-theists have about the lack of purpose we seem to have.
    SamuelJMorganon January 16, 2014   Link

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