Andrew Marvell’s poetry offers a clear, distinctive reflection of both the events and the issues of his time and of his own unique and penetrating mind. With wit and intelligence, he offers novel perspectives on poetical commonplaces from love to virtue (both individual and social) to death. By treating the conventional in a highly unconventional way, Marvell is able to reveal an astonishing complexity to his subjects, what T. S. Eliot calls “a recognition, implicit in the expression of every experience, of other kinds of experience which are possible.” Marvell’s conclusions are never forced or obvious; he subtly manipulates language and tone to hint at rather than clearly delineate his views and invites the reader to draw his own conclusions.
Marvell’s work incorporates the best features not only of Metaphysical poetry but of all poetry: His depiction of individual consciousness is worthy of the Romantic poets, and his vivid treatment of public events and themes is equally adept and incisive. His harmonious blending of reason and passion as he treats the inner world and the outer world with equal ease assures him of a lasting and prominent place in the literary canon.