"Full of pure love and always true To his one exquisite dream, N.F.B.—these letters he drew In blood upon his shield."

In Part II, Chapter 7, Aglaya Yepanchin recites Pushkin's poem "The Poor Knight" in front of her family, Myshkin, and a few other people. The poem is about a medieval knight who dedicates his love to the vision of perfect beauty, Mother Mary. He fights in her name and finally, dies, alone and insane, in his castle. Aglaya suggests that Myshkin is very much like the poor knight, except that the prince's ideal is Nastassya Filippovna and not Mother Mary. Therefore, Aglaya exchanges the initials A.M.D. (Ave Mater Dei) for N.F.B.—Nastassya Filippovna Barashkov. Aglaya begins reciting the poem in a mocking tone, but soon her tone changes to a serious one. Later, she tells the prince that in reading the poem she was attempting to show him that she understood his feelings for Nastassya Filippovna. The poem invites us to consider how well the model of the "poor knight" fits the character of the prince. Perhaps Aglaya has come close to guessing the essence of Myshkin's character. In reality, however, she has not entirely succeeded. The prince is idealistic, but his ideal is his selfless love for others, not merely Nastassya Filippovna. Myshkin's relationship toward Nastassya Filippovna is merely an expression of that ideal. In addition, unlike the knight who fights the Muslims with his ideal expressly in mind, the prince is not consciously aware of his ideal. He lives it in his every word and action because he feels it, because it is at the core of his being.