It seems obvious that in the experience of literature we use temporal expectation—a 'mental set,' as Gombrich puts it, which is 'a state of readiness to start projecting.' We remember that in Stevens the 'angel of reality' gives us the power 'to see the earth again / Cleared of its stiff and stubborn, man-locked set'; and that he aims at 'meanings said / By repetition of half-meanings' —by using the second kind of memory to play upon the expectations created by the third. So we may call books fictive models of the temporal world.
A friend recommended James Merrill to me years ago, been meaning to give The Changing Light At Sandover a shot (in the same sense that I've been meaning to actually read Piers Plowman, i.e. I'm not confident it'll ever happen).