"I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine" is a deeply pensive ballad from Bob Dylan's down-to-earth return to the public eye following a serious motorcycle accident and was written during a nine-month period of reclusive recovery. The entire John Wesley Harding album is a return to the organic with spare, unobtrusive musical accompaniment providing the foundation for Dylan's yarns of rural myth as he spins tales of skewed American folklore. Deliberately paced, delicately played acoustic guitar and drums sway to Dylan's dream of religious philosopher St. Augustine trying to save "the very souls whom already have been sold." The text, while enigmatic, has a dreamlike quality that leaves a lot of room for interpretation but seem to convey a deep-felt, if not quit understood, guilt and sadness. Dylan's vocals are powerfully direct, trying on a newfound, raw emotional sincerity that he had seldom achieved on previous recordings. This comes through most clearly upon his "waking" during the poignant last verse with the lines, "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 by head and cried."