The poet calls upon the cities and the states to "resist much, obey little." Unquestioning obedience will lead to slavery, and if a nation is enslaved, it may never regain its freedom.
This is one of the small, though significant, dedicatory poems in Inscriptions. Whitman feels that one of the essential features of a free, democratic society is its diversity of opinions. Blind obedience must be resisted, or the state risks losing all its freedom. implicit in the concept of obedience is the concept of totalitarianism. The poem suggests the democratic vistas of Whitman's poetic cosmos. The concept of democracy is one of the significant themes of Leaves of Grass.