Dante Alighieri wrote the poem The Divine Comedy, which established his native Tuscan dialect as the literary language of Italy. Not only is Dante Italy's most important poet, but he is considered along with Shakespeare as one of the towering figures of Western literature. His work displayed profound understanding of medieval thought. He also demonstrated a mastery of complex technical skills and a dramatic range and originality. Dante's life spanned the years of the late Middle Ages, during which the struggle between the pope and emperor for supremacy of Italy reached its most acute phase. Deeply involved in the issues of his day, Dante reflected the aspirations and anxieties of his contemporaries.