The third stanza addresses the aftermath of the failed encounter and, again, the failure is partly symbolized by the cherry blossom. The speaker still retains one branch, picked at the same time as the offering to ‘you’; while this suggests a sharing of the beauty and emotional symbolism of the flowers between the two locations and people (lovers?), it also means that, projecting into the future, he will know when her flowers wilt and fall because his flowers will do so at the same time. The imagined synchrony of the death of the flowers suggests the withering of the relationship between the two people. Still focusing on ‘you’, the speaker imagines her clearing up the remains of the cherry blossom and disposing of them ‘with the ashes/and empties’. Because the cherry flowers, briefly, at Easter, as both Housman and Thomas mention, it may also be associated, paradoxically, both with the fresh new life of Spring and with the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ on Good Friday. The ‘ashes’ bring to mind the grief and repentance of Ash Wednesday, while also being a powerful general image of death and futility.The ‘ashes’ are paired with ‘empties’ – possibly a reference to putting out empty milk-bottles or the discarding of empty bottles of wine or other alcoholic drinks – suggesting the void which now exists between the two, and contrasts effectively with the image of plenitude and beauty with which the poem opens. Noteworthy, also, is the fact that in this final stanza, it is ‘you’ who is active, ‘brush[ing]’ and ‘toss[ing]’, clearing up the detritus of the dead flowers, while in the first stanza it is ‘I’ who is dynamic and daring in his actions. The final, bitter-sounding phrase, ‘yesterday’s news’ (referring to the old newspaper in which the ash is collected as well as the idiom connoting that someone/something is not worthy of attention), links up with the repeated ‘words’ of the second stanza, creating an impression of the futility and ephemerality of human expression. Like that emblem of transience, the cherry blossom, the poem indicates that human relationships, too, are short-lived and lead to sadness and regret when they are over. This final stanza contains a mixture of verb tenses, such as ‘I’d kept’ (pluperfect), ‘I’ll know’ (future), ‘you brush’ (present) which contrasts with the simple past tense used in the first two stanzas. This self-consciousness about time passing may be seen as underlining the theme of ephemerality hinted at by the cherry blossom itself .
 Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent, which in the Christian calendar is the period of penitence leading up to Easter. On this day ashes are placed in a cross on the Christian worshipper’s forehead as a reminder that, in the words of Genesis 3:19, ‘dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.’