How do we treat athletes after they have grown old and infirm? What does it feel like to once have been powerful and then to lose all power and strength?
In Wordsworth's Ballad, published in the 1798 Lyrical Ballads, he explores an incident he had with an old, one-eyed man named Christopher Trickey.
In his youth Trickey had been a strong huntsman with a wealthy family. Now they are all dead and he is impoverished and weak.
One day he is attempting to upturn a root with a farm tool, but he cannot do it. Wordsworth walks by and offers his help. In a single blow Wordsworth breaks the root and upturns it. Trickey, in tears, thanks Wordsworth.
"Alas! the gratitude of men
Has oftner left me mourning"