The ‘seven years’ hard’ Rudyard Kipling spent as a journalist in north India are generally seen as the making of both his poetic and his politics. But, important as origin, community, identity and ‘my father’s house’ are to Kipling, he should also be seen as a wayfarer of no fixed abode. In 1889 he used his first royalties to return to metropolitan fame by the long way round: Burma, the Straits, ... [Show full abstract] Japan, the Pacific and a transcontinental journey past landmarks of his Americanophile boyhood reading. Both distressing and exhilarating, it was a journey that stimulated the productive tension in him between the parochial and the universal. If an upcountry Punjab station had impressed him with the necessity of colonial rule, it was this voyage that engendered his all-embracing imperial vision. If he had honed his eye for ‘local colour’, this trip intimated to him that his metier would lie in culturally translating disparate portions of the empire to one another. Anticipating Baden-Powell’s call to ‘look wider’, vagabonding proved to be an agreeable mode of existence, but metropolitan arrival was to hold its own unforeseen challenges and anxieties. At a time when English writers like Arthur Symons aestheticised their sensation of cultural rootlessness in the figure of the vagabond, Kipling sought to foreground his own vagabondism with a persuasive claim to belonging.