T. S. Eliot wrote of Marvell's style that 'It is more than a technical accomplishment, or the vocabulary and syntax of an epoch; it is, what we have designated tentatively as wit, a tough reasonableness beneath the slight lyric grace'. He also identified Marvell and the metaphysical school with the 'dissociation of sensibility' that occurred in 17th-century English literature; Eliot described this trend as 'something which... happened to the mind of England... it is the difference between the intellectual poet and the reflective poet'. Poets increasingly developed a self-conscious relationship to tradition, which took the form of a new emphasis on craftsmanship of expression and an idiosyncratic freedom in allusions to Classical and Biblical sources.
Marvell's most celebrated lyric, "To His Coy Mistress", combines an old poetic conceit (the persuasion of the speaker's lover by means of a carpe diem philosophy) with Marvell's typically vibrant imagery and easy command of rhyming couplets. Other works incorporate topical satire and religious themes.