We know that physical time goes on regularly, but inner time (our sensation of the passage of time) is very variable. The two times do not have to match. Sometimes, watching at our inner time, a minute can look like hours, while in other cases the hours fly away. An English poet, William Blake, expressed it well in a famous poem:
To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand,
And Eternity in an hour
(Auguries of Innocence, 1803?)
There is a long history of literary works, in which a character enters aesthetic or religious ecstasy, or simply falls asleep, and on returning to reality discovers that many years have passed, sometimes centuries. This subgenre (called by scholars sleeper legends) has representatives in many literatures. In Spanish literature, it is reflected in the legend of the monk and the little bird, associated with the monastery of Leire. In this legend, a monk who enters in ecstasy while a bird is singing, discovers upon awakening that three centuries have gone by. Among medieval French lays there is a legend about the knight Guingamor, who arrived in a wonderful city and stayed there for three days, but when he left, he found that three centuries had passed. And in the United States literature we have the famous story by Washington Irving titled Rip van Winkle, whose protagonist falls asleep one night and wakes up 20 years later.