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I was reading a poet Sara Teasdale's poems and quotes and came across this one. I can't figure out what this line really means.

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Literary analysis is off-topic, but this is fairly straightforward:

  • ache: heartache, longing
  • empty arms: having no-one to hold close
  • an old tale: something you have heard or experienced before, perhaps many times.

The heartache of not having anyone to hold close is something you have experienced from of old.

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Note that the verb is past tense, not present tense, so it would be better to say "was something you had experienced often" – WhatRoughBeast Feb 5 at 4:22

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