Kings shall kneel at your feet, Astair,
Emperor's kiss your hand;
The King of Midian must be powerful or powerfully ambitious. He's expecting that kings from surrounding nations will come to his court to pay tribute, and while doing so they will pay their respects to his queen.
By the way, an "emperor" is a king who rules over many kingdoms, so it's hard to imagine anyone more powerful than an emperor. But apparently, the King of Midian is confident that even emperors will come to Midian to kiss the hand of his queen. It makes you wonder: Just how powerful is this guy?
Captive girls for your joy shall dance, slim and straight as a striking lance,
Entertainment at the palace must have been a sumptuous parade featuring some of the best musicians and dancers in the world. And some of these dancers were slaves, captured in foreign lands. That's why they are called "captive girls."
The narrator compares these girls to lances, or spears. Does that simile even make sense? Isn't the typical dancing girl rather "curvy"?
That's what I love about Howard. He doesn't go for the obvious simile; he forces our imaginations to work a bit harder: In what way is a dancing girl similar to a spear?
As people get older, they tend to get fatter and rounder. Someone who is "slim and straight" is probably pretty young. Howard could have just told us that these captive girls are young, but the simile is so much more tantalizing.
I like to imagine that Astair herself used to be one of these captive dancing girls. The poem doesn't say this, exactly, but wouldn't it be cool? Astair, a former dancing girl, now has dancing girls of her own.
Who tremble and bow at your mildest glance, and kneel at your least command.
The infamous statesman Niccolo Machiavelli once said: "It is better to be feared than loved." This attitude was commonplace in the ancient world.
The King of Midian could have told his wife: "Your dancing girls will love you", but instead he says:
"Your dancing girls will be scared of you. In fact, they're going to be so scared of you that they will start to tremble if you look at them. You won't even have to give them a stern look. Just give them your 'mildest glance' and they will tremble from head to toe."
Jeez! I wonder what happens to dancing girls who fail the please the king or queen? Are they thrown to the lions or something? In any case, if the queen asks you to fetch her a glass of water, you better kneel down pretty quick and say, "Yes, Your Majesty, right away."