This study began with a question why T’ang poet Du Mu was called ‘Dr. Calculation’. Is this nickname impartial and does reflect properly the characteristics of Du Mu’s related works? So we discussed the specific situation of the use of numerals in Du Mu’s 270 poems through statistical analysis. Also, according to poetic styles we analyzed their aesthetic characteristics. Numerals are the part of speech that is used to indicate the number or order. From ShiJing(《詩經》) to QuanTangShi(《全唐詩》), ancient Chinese poems widely used numerals to reveal the special effects inherent. Therefore, the discussion of numerals plays an important role in understanding the aesthetics of ancient poetry. However, up to now the research on the use and effect of numerals has not yet reached the maturity and is limited to partial analysis. This paper calculated the frequency of examples of numeral in QuanTangShi and searched the co-occurrence words that combine numerals and nouns(or quantifiers). Furthermore, we discussed how the poets change numerals as ‘poetic words’. We also discussed how Du Mu used numerals to enhance the aesthetic effect in his poems.
First of all, to prove the real meaning of ‘Dr. Calculation’, we analyzed the innovative use of “One,” the repeated use at rhyming couple, and the use of multiple numerals. The results are as follows: First, Du Mu often used the numeral ‘one’ to express ‘hyperbolic contrast’. In addition, the choice of co-occurrence words showed a bold and novel side. Second, in rhyming couple, in order to refine the beauty of the form, Du Mu liked to use numerals, besides often with multiplicity. We think that this way of expression raises reality, is very exemplary and impeccable. The last feature is the continuous use of numerals. Although Du Mu was not the first to use this method, it showed a new aspect of poetry using numerals.
Next, we discussed the use of numerals according to the form of poetry. Du Mu not only made a good use of each types of poem, but could also write poems using numerals to suit the characteristics of the form. In the ‘JueJu(絶句)’, which is a more free-spirited type than ‘LüShi(律诗)’, Du Mu used numerals as the central expression to show the main theme of the poem. In addition, in the ‘QiYanLüShi(七言律詩)’, through the break-up of convention and the flexible use, it helps to increase the unique style. At the same time, Du Mu used numerals with artisanship to add rhythm to the ‘GuTiShi(古體詩)’, and achieved the effect of strengthening the refined beauty.
In short, among Tang poets, Du Mu is a true ‘master craftsman’ in the field of use of numerals, considering the scale of poems using numbers, and the literary achievements as well. Finally, we hope that this paper can help to raise interest in numerals in the situation where there is still insufficient research on the rhetoric used in classical poetry.