The spring rains quickened the earth.
quicken = to exhibit sigs of life; to make lively, active, or sprightly
I think "bring to life" is more directly the meaning here. Spring rains are conceived of as wakening the frozen earth back to life. Here is this idea in the famous Medieval poem by Geoffrey Chaucer:
Here bygynneth the Book of the tales of Caunterbury
1: Whan that aprill with his shoures soote
2: The droghte of march hath perced to the roote,
3: And bathed every veyne in swich licour
4: Of which vertu engendred is the flour;
(modern English:) 1. When the sweet showers of April 2. have pierced the droughts of March down to the root, 3. and bathed every shrub with the liquid 4. from whose power flowers are engendered ...
Here the word "engendered" means to create new life (such as that of a child)
I watched the dawn quickening in the east.
This has the meanings that are clustering around "coming alive, coming to life" -- and in this case, especially "coming back to life, awakening."
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